Everyone knows that a surefire way to get an Oscar nomination is to play someone with a disability.
Before I became a special education teacher, I never gave this a second thought. Some of my favorite movies feature characters with disabilities that were played by non-disabled actors.
Then, I became familiar with the sentiment in the disability community about “nothing about us without us.” It was then that I began to rethink my view about disability representation in TV and film.
But surely a quadriplegic could not play the role of one on the big screen, right? Or how about a person with autism? No autistic person could ever play Raymond Babbitt (from Rain Man) so flawlessly as Dustin Hoffman did. Or what about Claire Danes in the iconic biopic of Temple Grandin? For years, I spoke highly of this film for her accurate portrayal of a person on the autism spectrum. It is this kind of ableist thinking that has permeated our culture for decades.