5 Things You Can Learn About Asperger Syndrome from Watching "Mary and Max"

5 Things You Can Learn About Asperger Syndrome from Watching "Mary and Max"

The film teaches us a lot about the developmental disorder.

5 Things You Can Learn About Asperger Syndrome from Watching "Mary and Max"
Creative Commons

Mary and Max, rated 95% on the TomatoMeter on Rotten Tomatoes, is a heartwarming, well-told, humorous and stunningly animated film that discusses its hot-button topic, Asperger Syndrome, quite seamlessly. I have not met many people with Asperger Syndrome - or at least I have not known many people who have told me that they have it - but I do know that they are often victims of bullying because the symptoms of the disorder (problems with social skills, repetitive behaviors, communication difficulties) are oftentimes difficult for other people to understand. To help fix that, here is a list of 5 things things we all can learn about Asperger Syndrome from watching Mary and Max.

1. Asperger Syndrome is a "neurobiological pervasive developmental disability." But what does that mean?

Pervasive developmental disorders indicate a delay in the development of many basic skills, including socialization and communication. According to Autism Speaks, an autism advocacy organization in the United States, Asperger Syndrome is "an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) considered to be on the 'high functioning' end of the spectrum." The organization notes that "high functioning" refers to the fact that those with Asperger Syndrome do not have delays in cognitive development. In the movie, the life-long friendship between Mary and Max looks beyond all that. Max, the 44-year-old character diagnosed with Asperger's, has trouble interacting with and understanding others. His pen-pal friend, 8-year-old Mary, is the only one who understands him; however, there are many points throughout the movie where Max experiences anxiety - even from speaking with her.

2. People with Asperger Syndrome often like to solve problems, or are skilled in other specific areas.

According to a blog called It's A Mom's World, there are many activities that children of various ages with Asperger's can enjoy. The blog suggests that learning activities with visual aids, routines and structured schedules, and limited or no distractions work successfully for Aspies. Also, it is a common myth that those with Asperger's are always skilled in math and science - many people with the disorder are also skilled in areas of music and art, as well.

By the way, Aspie isn't normally considered offensive - it's actually used quite often within the Asperger's community, supposedly first coined in 1999 by Liane Willey.

3. People with Asperger Syndrome often have difficulty understanding figurative language.

Remember when that one kid in middle school who always talked back to the teacher? The teacher would respond by saying something like, "Don't be smart!" People with Asperger's might not be able to understand the expression itself - because being "smart" is a good thing, right? Well, yes, but that expression is not intended to discourage someone from being "smart," but rather it is an idiom, or an expression that is not to be taken literally. A child with the disorder would often get confused with that expression because they would interpret it in the literal sense, when what the teacher actually meant was to not be rude. Just like Max suggests in the movie, literal and logical expressions are key to communicating with people who have Asperger's.

4. People with Asperger Syndrome sometimes have difficulty expressing emotion.

But that does not mean that Aspies do not feel. It is a myth that those with Asperger Syndrome do not feel or cannot show empathy. In fact, they feel a lot, but it can be difficult for them to share their feelings when they see and react to the world a little bit differently. For example, when Mary apologizes to Max, it takes him a very long time to figure out what she means and why she is saying it. Mary and Max share a life-long friendship that is profound and meaningful, one that comes from their shared trust and lack of judgment.

5. People with Asperger Syndrome can - and do - make friends.

Even with the social and communicative implications of Asperger Syndrome, there is no reason that those with the disorder can not make friends. In the film, Mary and Max find a long-distance friendship that is filled with meaning and purpose for years on end. I am purposely not including a source in this section of the list because there is no reason why any person - regardless of any developmental limitations - would not be able to make at least one friend. To test it out, next time you meet someone who seems a little different than you or your friends - whether you know of their hardships or not - try to remember that some people have a harder time with social interactions and communication. But if you dig a little deeper, you can build a friendship with that person that is meaningful and long-lasting, just like Mary and Max.

To watch the 2009 Australian stop motion animated film Mary and Max, you can buy it on Google Play and stream it on Hulu (while licensing lasts).

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

119 People Reveal How The Pandemic Has Affected Their Love Lives, And Honestly... Relatable

"I haven't been able to get out of the 'talking phase' with anyone."

The reality is, there's no part of life the pandemic hasn't affected. Whether it's your work life, your home life, your social life, or your love life, coronavirus (COVID-19) is wreaking havoc on just about everything — not to mention people's health.

When it comes to romance, in particular, people are all handling things differently and there's no "right way" of making it through, regardless of your relationship status (single, taken, married, divorced, you name it). So, some of Swoon's creators sought out to hear from various individuals on how exactly their love lives have been affected since quarantine began.

Keep Reading... Show less

Nordstrom's Biggest Sale Has The Most Legendary Deals On Luxury Beauty Brands We've Ever Seen

Counting down the days to the Chanel box set gracing my front door.

I oftentimes (excessively) use the excuse of my job as a writer to justify my excessive spending habits.

I needed the new Huda Beauty palette before anyone else in the name of journalistic integrity. It was my job to test out the new Francis Kurkdjian fragrance to make sure I could tell people whether or not it was truly worth the splurge (it was).

Keep Reading... Show less

Listen, you can do whatever you want with your free time. It's yours to spend and you have free range. However, I hope you recognize that there are a ton of proactive things you can do right now instead of stalking your man's ex – yes, I know you do it becuase we are all guilty of it.

Take this time to research your privilege. There are always new things to learn and ways to deepen your understanding of yourself, this world, and your surroundings. We live in a multi-dimensional, ever-changing society that needs your help and your time. By that, I mean there are so many layers to each and every one of us, and with our physical, mental, spiritual, or emotional selves, we can create real, positive change.

Keep Reading... Show less

Preview These Top Nordstrom Anniversary Sale 2020 Picks — From Luxury Purses To Skincare

Currently 3 million people viewing the Stella McCartney purse I absolutely must have.

Online shopping has been a guilty pleasure of ours for years, but now more than ever it's been a shopping lover's outlet for all our home redecorating projects and resort wear we're purchasing for that trip we had to cancel.

One of my favorite places to (virtually) window shop has always been Nordstrom. I admittedly can't afford to go on sprees there often, but I still get a high off of adding things to my cart I know I'll never actually end up buying. But sometimes, that's not enough — that's when I, like the masses of luxury-, beauty-, fashion-, and decor-lovers around the world count the days down to the annual Nordstrom Anniversary Sale.

Keep Reading... Show less

I remember the days where closet drinking before going to a party or bar was part of the night's itinerary. It was a requirement to have a good buzz flowing before calling the Uber to take you to that bar where you see everyone from your high school at. The pregames were the best part of the night, but it wasn't ever because of the alcohol, it was because of the atmosphere and those who were in it. The number of times I've heard "Wait, why aren't you drinking tonight? C'mon, get drunk with us" is endless, but think about it. Where were you when you were asked that? You were at the goddamn pregame and being there doesn't mean you need to be ripping shots. Being social doesn't require alcohol.

I asked 20 people how they cut back on alcohol while still being social.

Keep Reading... Show less

Whether you are quarantining away from your significant other because of coronavirus or separated by the country lines at this time, it's fair to say that long-distance relationships are tough no matter what. However, there are ways to show love from a distance whether that's through daily FaceTime calls, cute Snapchats, or sexy pics sent to them on their phone. You can brighten up their day even more with some of these unique gifts that can fit any price range and a variety of interests.

Keep Reading... Show less

Rihanna is known for many things: her music, fashion, makeup, and now skincare. As a makeup artist myself, I can confidently say that she rocked the makeup world when she released her makeup line in 2017 and has been influencing the beauty world ever since.

Trying some of her makeup products myself, I know that she doesn't skimp on quality, and even though some of her products may be a little pricey, trust me, you get what you pay for.

Keep Reading... Show less

Friends, no one needs to be reminded that the COVID-19 pandemic rages on in the U.S. Frankly, this is because we have all collectively decided not to do the one simple thing that was asked of us and wear a mask.

I could make this a very boring article, and berate you with facts and statistics and the importance of wearing a mask, but I have opted against that for both of our sakes. Instead, I will attempt to reach you in another way. You might not care about a disapproving look from me, but from Nick Miller? Maybe that will be enough to change your mind.

Keep Reading... Show less
Facebook Comments