In what appears to be an increasing trend in both movies and television, characters with autism (or autistic traits) have become a focal point of interest for both writers and producers. As we mentioned last week, a new Tom Hanks movie is set for release later this month, revolving around the 9/11 attacks and a young boy with autism. In "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close," nine-year-old Oskar Schell, who has high-functioning autism, must come to grips after his father (Hanks) is killed in the World Trade Center attacks. The discovery of a mysterious key by Schell causes him to embark on a remarkable journey of healing and discovery.
Coincidentally enough (or not), Fox has announced a new series that will also revolve around a 9/11 widower and a child with autism.
Beginning January 25, 2012, "Touch" will follow Martin Bohm (Kiefer Sutherland) as he struggles to connect with his non-verbal eleven-year-old son, Jake. Trapped in his own world and inability to speak, Jake keeps himself busy by disassembling phone parts and other repetitive activities, all while seeing the world in a unique way.
The show kicks into gear when Bohm learns that his son possesses incredible abilities and gifts involving numbers, all of which connect with people and events around the world.
After watching the preview, I was incredibly moved and am excited at the potential the show has to offer. As a huge fan of "Lost" and a parent of a child with autism, it looks to be right up my alley.
I did find it interesting that although Jake clearly displays characteristics of autism (non-verbal, fascination with numbers, etc.) I could not find anywhere in the Fox promotional info where autism is mentioned. This was also the case with the Hanks movie and no doubt an intentional move by producers and executives of both projects. My guess for this is the desire to avoid creating stereotypes that can result from casting these individuals with autism in a particular way.
I’m really looking forward to watching "Touch" and have marked my calendar for the 25th. I’ve watched the trailer below three times already and have yet to keep a dry eye.