Rain Man

Star rating: 4/5.

When Rain Man hit our cinema screens in 1988 it brought the term autism into the public consciousness, writes Stuart Notholt.

When Charlie Babbitt’s (Tom Cruise) father dies he discovers he has a brother with autism, Raymond (Dustin Hoffman). In order to get his fair share of the inheritance, Charlie abducts Raymond and holds him hostage leading to a series of scrapes mainly centred on Raymond’s autistic traits and need for a regular routine.

This Oscar-winning film, released now on DVD, finishes with Charlie gaining a better understanding of his brother, but viewers may be left with an inaccurate picture of what it means to have autism. People with autism who have genuine savant abilities are rare; at most only one or two in 200. The film’s contribution was important but now we need to move on from Rain Man.

Stuart Notholt is director of policy and public affairs, National Autistic Society.

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