New Film Puts the Spotlight on Important Issues With Teens and Autism

Though this isn’t the first time a character on the autism spectrum has been the focus of a film, the latest reviews of “A Brilliant Young Mind” are leading us to believe it’s one well worth watching.

Nathan Ellis (played by Asa Butterfield) is diagnosed with autism as a young child, and by the time he’s a teen he finds his passion with numbers. He ends up joining the International Mathematics Olympiad after some encouragement from his math teacher, Martin Humphreys (Rafe Spall). Martin lives with multiple sclerosis (MS), and he serves as a wonderful mentor for Nathan, who’s coping with the recent death of his father.

If the story sounds familiar, it’s because director Morgan Matthews made a documentary, “Beautiful Young Minds,” about International Mathematical Olympiad competitors with autism in 2007. One of the participants, Daniel Lightwing, served as the inspiration for this story.

Butterfield, the film’s star, recently chatted with Time about prepping for the role, and he revealed that playing a character with autism was the number one thing that drew him in to the project.

“I didn’t know very much about people who were on the spectrum,” he told Time. “I spoke to a lot of them, met with a lot of young men who grew up on the autistic spectrum and learned about the things they had to deal with. One person in particular, called Daniel Lightwing, who my character was loosely based upon, I spoke to him for quite awhile.”

“A Brilliant Young Mind” hits theaters in the United States on September 11, 2015.

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