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Dear Readers of the verajoffe website:

I just came back from the movies, and I was very pleased and moved by the movie "Adam", the new romantic dramedy from writer-director Max Mayer. This movie came out a few months before my book on Asperger's Syndrome will be published later on this Fall season. The movie is a poem, a very gentle, moving, romantic, and caring portray of the life of an adult with Asperger's Syndrome. Adam has many characteristics of many people with this condition, which is in the spectrum of Autism: He has social skills challenges, he has a hard time with eye contact, he has difficulty with social cues, and with understanding other people's feelings and wishes. Adam is also very literal, and he does not understand the "nuances" of language and messages. As a matter of fact, the paradox between Adam's concrete interpretation of the world, and of words and gestures is compared to his girlfriend's father who is very sophisticated, and who knows the many "angles" of relating, dealing with life, and as a consequence, knowing how to lie without remorse. I was very impressed with the way that Max Mayer developed the theme of purity and concreteness of an individual with Asperger's as opposed to the "typical people" in this world who are more likely to lie, and to manipulate the truth. Finally, as many other people with Asperger's, Adam has special interests (such as astrology, physics, and nature), and he resorts to talking nonstop about these topics in place of having a "give and take" conversation with another person. He is also very anxious, and has difficulty expressing his feelings. But, as director Max Mayer stated: Because Adam does not express himself verbally, he does show his love for his girlfriend through actions: Isn't this what all of us "typical" people want in life anyway? 

I highly recommend this movie to adults, and teenagers. This is not only a story about understanding Asperger's Syndrome, but also a story of love. Not just love between Adam and his girlfriend, but also love and dedication from other people, such as his father's best friend, a mentor and parental figure to Adam. There is no doubt the Hugh Dancy made me believe and think that he had Asperger's Syndrome in this movie. His affect, his gestures, the way he looked (or did not look) at people, his speech, and his expression of anxiety, fear, and the need for routine and sameness was fantastic. Rose Byrne, who played Beth Buchwald, Adam's girlfriend, was also superb. If you do see the movie, please, pay attention to the story that Beth (who is a teacher) reads to her classroom. Beth also mentioned the book "The Little Prince" as being her favorite of all books. It is mine as well.

I have been working with Asperger's Syndrome for many years. I have a lot to learn from all patients and families of patients who have come to my office, and whom I met over the last 25 years as a psychologist. Not one child or adult with Asperger's Syndrome is alike. Thus, Adam is just one character with Asperger's Syndrome. Children and adults with Asperger's Syndrome have characteristics that affect them in three major areas of life: social skills, language/speech difficulties, obsessions, sensitivities, and anxiety. Asperger's Syndrome is in the Autism Spectrum, but children with this condition usually develop vocabulary and speech early in life. However, their language is impaired when it comes to social skills, semantics, pragmatics, conversations, "give and take", "taking turns", and understanding that other people may have another way of thinking and of feeling. If parents notice that their child is developing difficulties in social relations, in understanding symbolic meaning of words (as well as jokes, metaphors), in addition to having special interests (at the cost of not wanting to spend time with regular activities), then they should pay attention and discuss with their physician how those items may be affecting the child's life and functioning at school, at home, and in other places.

I think that one of the most beautiful and essential messages from the movie "Adam" is that the character knew a lot about his condition, and that he had accepted the fact that he had Asperger's Syndrome. Not only that, but the message of love between Adam and Beth was that they were able to connect once Adam realized that Beth learned about Asperger's Syndrome, and that he accepted him for who he was, with no intention of changing him to "fit better".

If you have any comments to this article, any questions to Dr. Joffe, or any reactions to the movie and to this article, please, do not hesitate to email Dr. Joffe in this website.

Posted in: Aspergers

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