Love is something we cannot explain. It is like magic. Isn’t is difficult enough to find love for two average people? What if you were not considered to be average? It can be torturous to express how we feel. What if you add autism into the mix? Autism is on a wide spectrum. Autistic adulthood is not a common topic of conversation. Director Matt Fuller brings us into the world of 4 extraordinary people; Lenny, Stephen, Lindsey and Dave in the new documentary Autism in Love.
Lenny is an unemployed young man, living with his immensely supportive mother. He has a fondness for video games and longing for a girlfriend. He is extremely aware of his autism and believes that it impedes him from finding love. Highly emotional, Lenny’s struggles have a visceral affect on even Fuller. In a moment of breaking the wall, even with the director out of sight, Lenny is visibly upset and tells Fuller not to cry. He says, “I would rather be a normal man than an autistic person with a million dollars.”
Stephen is a middle aged savant who knows every answer on Jeopardy before we’ve even finished reading the clue, makes hot dogs for his parents every Sunday, and has a distinct cadence reminiscent of Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man. Married to a lovely woman named Geeta, he has a routine that he lives by that has only recently been disrupted by the fact that after 17 years with Geeta, she has been diagnosed with ovarian cancer. While Stephen’s autism is much more obvious, you can see the adoration in his eyes even if he is unable to express it verbally.
Lindsey and Dave have been dating for years. Labeled “High-functioning”, the two are an endearing match. Both are ready to take the next step, with Lindsey being the more verbal on the subject and Dave taking a seemingly more intellectual route. You instantly fall in love with this couple and cheer them on from the get go. The juxtaposition of these four individuals is a beautifully crafted story. The added struggle of being on the spectrum is something not many of us consider when searching for a mate. I think that Autism in Love is an important doc that let’s us gaze into a world often fraught with misconception, without gawking.
Here is a clip from Autism in Love: