Please Be Patient: Investigating the Representation of Autism in Media

Johnstone, Mhairi McDougall
Devadas, Vijay
Marbrook, Jim
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Master of Communication Studies
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Auckland University of Technology

The short film, Please Be Patient, and its accompanying exegesis aims to challenge the limited portrayal of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in modern media. Throughout the film, we follow an unnamed autistic character trying to understand why they find themselves so frustrated upon finding a badge reading: “I’m autistic, please be patient.”. In a non-linear narrative structure, their train of thought is related to us by satirically investigating the central question ‘why should we be patient with autistic people?’. This accompanying exegesis will provide a framework for how to engage with and read the film. In Chapter 1, I provide an autoethnographic account of my personal experience with autism and the importance of understanding intersectionality in research and representation. In Chapter 2, I will investigate the discursive frames through which autism can be viewed (Thibault, 2014), namely the interaction between medical and entertainment media. Lastly, after viewing the film, Please Be Patient, Chapter 3 discusses my creative process through the embodied research method and exposes how my autistic viewpoint has influenced my creative choices in the film’s fruition. My aim in undertaking this research is to provide insight into why autistic people should be a staple in the creation of autistic representation.

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