"Adam": Film Review
“Adam”, an independent film recently released by Fox Searchlight Pictures, tells the story of a young man with Asperger’s who must confront his limitations when he falls in love with a neurotypical young woman and falls out of a job designing processor chips for toys.
Most of the film reviews concentrate on the love story between Adam and his girlfriend, Beth. While this relationship is the engine that drives the story, the sub-plot depicting Adam’s employment struggles is equally compelling and in some ways more realistic.
Adam loses a job he loves, not because he isn’t smart or capable, but because he hasn’t learned how to be an apprentice. He refuses to follow his boss’s directive to work faster and make chips that aren’t perfect, but merely good enough. Adam can’t understand that his single-minded focus on perfecting the chip has hurt both his productivity and the company’s profits. When he’s fired, he’s devastated and mystified.
This sub-plot is an excellent illustration of RDI creator Steven Gutstein’s theory of the deficits in apprenticeships and thinking in those on the autism spectrum. These deficits occur during the first 24 months of life. During this stage, a neurotypical infant learns about the world by “sharing” his parents’ brains and absorbing Mom and Dad’s perceptions--in effect mastering his first apprenticeship. An autistic infant, however, never experiences this intersubjectivity. Missing this step creates a rupture in apprenticeship. And the rupture becomes more evident, with serious real-world consequences, as the autistic grows up and cannot tolerate being told what to do.
If Adam were my client, I would explain to him that he needs to learn how to learn from other people. He must understand that his bosses know more than he does. If he had figured this out in his last job, he would have set aside his desire to be perfect and worked faster. The most important skill to master is to follow directions; if he can do this, without arguing, he can probably keep his next job.
For more about “Adam,” go to http://www.sfstation.com/adam-a19451