Actors With Autismstep Into The Spotlight In Keep The Change
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Heres your daily dose of an indie film, web series, TV pilot, what-have-you in progress at the end of the week, youll have the chance to vote for your favorite – Autism Step.
In the meantime: Is this a project youd want to see? Tell us in the comments.
Logline: A man struggling to hide his autism falls in love with an autistic woman who challenges his desire to appear normal.
Elevator Pitch: The world needs a film that shows the intensity of emotional relationships between adults on the autistic spectrum. Keep the Change is a feature-length love story about David, an upper-class charmer struggling to hide his high-functioning autism. Forced to attend a support group for autistic adults, David falls in love with Sarah, a sheltered young autistic woman who challenges his identity as normal. After four years of intensive story collaboration with our neurodiverse cast, Keep the Change is finally ready to be shot as a feature film this summer.
Writer/Director: Rachel Israel
Executive Producers: Summer Shelton , Anne Hubbell and Amy Hobby
Producers: Kurt Enger and Min Ding
Current Status: Were deep into pre-production, as well as crowdfunding on Seed and Spark to raise the remaining funds to shoot in August 2015.
Anthony Hopkins Autism Facts
In 2017, Anthony Hopkins was interviewed by the Daily Mail about his troubles with addiction and Aspergers. Anthony Hopkins autistic diagnosis, more specifically Aspergers, was diagnosed late in life. He told the Daily Mail he was a loner and said:
I dont go to parties, I dont have many friendsBut I do like people. I do like to get inside their heads.
When asked if his Aspergers helped him as an actor, he said:
I definitely look at people differently. I like to deconstruct, to pull a character apart, to work out what makes them tick and my view will not be the same as everyone else. I get offered a lot of controlling parts, maybe because thats how people see me. And maybe I am very controlled because Ive had to be. I dont question it, I just take the parts because Im an actor and thats what I do.
- Heather Kuzmich Americas Next Top Model Contestant
- Paige Layle TikTok Personality
A Transcript Of The Film Is Below:
Benjamin Rosloff: My name is Benjamin Rosloff, and I am a filmmaker, editor, and storyteller. And I am living with autism. There are different types of prayers prayers that praise God, prayers that thank God, prayers that ask for forgiveness, and prayers that ask God for something. There are prayers that are memorized that we recite or sing to familiar melodies. Asking questions is how we learn about peoples hopes and dreams and what kind of world they want to live in.
Hello, this is Samantha Elisofon. She is living with autism, she is a member of EPIC Players, a neurodiverse inclusive theater company, and I want to thank you for letting me interview you today.
Samantha Elisofon: Oh no worries Ben, its always my pleasure, anytime, and its so wonderful being here today.
Rosloff: Do you pray?
Elisofon: Yes. I pray for this whole pandemic to end, hopefully soon. I pray for a mix-and-match of so many things, and a more highly personal level, catching up in an affection with other close friends, loved ones, relatives, having a boyfriend since Im still single.
Rosloff: Do you recite prayers that you have learned or memorized, or do you have personal prayers?
Elisofon: Honestly, more personal prayers. When I reflect on how my day went, I meditate. Yoga prayers when I do my workout routinely activities like on a daily basis, its always personal stuff.
Rosloff: Is your disability something you refer to in your prayers?
Rosloff: How does praying make you feel?
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Messi Autism Rumors Or Diagnosed
Lionel Messi is a worldwide soccer superstar, but there are rumors that he struggled with Autism early in life. According to WessexScene.com:
There are unconfirmed reports that Messi was diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome at the age of 9.
As a child, Messi kept to himself and was known in his village as el pequeño mudito . His extreme focus on his sport has many autism experts convinced he has Aspergers or is somewhere on the autism spectrum.
This Debut Film Features A Love Story About People With Autism
Recently I had the privilege of viewing Keep the Change, written and directed by Rachel Israel, at the Colonial Theatre in Bethlehem New Hampshire. The two talented actors who make their debut in this film are Samantha Elisofon as Sarah and Brandon Polansky as David. Samantha and her mother Marguerite attended the showing. Marguerite spoke beforehand and it became clear that as a visionary advocate for her daughter she has long enabled Samantha to wear the wings she needs to soar in her own life.
Both actors give stunning performances. Both are autistic and both play autistic main characters. David is the center of the story. He believes the key to his success is his ability to conform. His efforts often lead to confusing failures and feelings of despair that sum up the dark side of autistic reality. In contrast, Sarah is the heart of authentic possibility. She has some atypical speech patterns and other affects that can be quirky to the typical eye and ear, yet her character is luminous in all of her light and dark moments. She shines and broods with an arresting power all her own. Sarah snuffs out any long mistaken notion that an autistic person has little emotional expanse or ability to become emotionally attached.
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Short Film Series Explores The Intersection Of Disability And Prayer In The Jewish Community
Los Angeles, April 9, 2021 Samantha Elisofon, a talented actress who lives with autism, stars in her own segment of What Do You Pray For? The film was made by Ben Rosloff, a talented emerging filmmaker on the Autism spectrum who serves as a Jewish Inclusion Fellow in RespectAbilitys National Leadership Program.
What Do You Pray For? is a series of short interviews of Jews with disabilities who tell viewers in their own words what they pray for and what prayer means to them. The project features Jews with various disabilities from across the United States, with a myriad of different connections to their Jewish identity.
The series focuses on the universal nature and themes of prayer, as well as the hopes and dreams of people with disabilities. The interviews reveal the need for inclusion and a connection to the community. All interviewees provided valuable insights on their disability experience, understanding it to be an integral part of themselves, presenting challenges and opportunities.
Paige Layle Talks Autism On Tiktok
Paige Layle is an eyelash technician from Ontario who recently went viral on TikiTok after posting a 4-part series about being an autistic woman. Her TikTok account is filled with facts about autism and she talks about how it took a long time to get her diagnosis because she is a woman that doesnt necessarily fit the mold of being autistic. People Magazine reported that:
Layle also said that girls with autism tend to live with mental disorders, disclosing that she currently has seven, including OCDAll of these mental illnesses stem from having autism, but OCD, anxiety, and depression are very, very common, especially in girls
- Matthew Labyorteaux Actor
The Prison Break star told CBSNew York:
Autism is central to who I am. I wouldnt change it.
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- Scott Steindorff Producer
Steindorff produced top films like the Lincoln Lawyer. Now according to The Hollywood Reporter, he is producing a documentary called Spectrum Neurodiversity. Steindorff is on the spectrum himself and said the documentary:
- Ian Terry Big Brother Star
Ian said on Twitter:
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The Individuals Featured In The What Do You Pray For Series Include:
- Erika Abbott: Writer / Award-Winning Poet
- Justin Borses: Former College Student and employee at Moorpark College
- Lee Chernotsky: Founder and CEO, ROSIES Foundation
- Samantha Elisofon: Award-Winning Actress and member of EPIC Players, A Neuro-inclusive Theater Company in Brooklyn
- Alex Howard: Entertainment Media and Jewish Inclusion Fellow in RespectAbilitys National Leadership Program
- Matan Koch: Director of RespectAbility California and Jewish Leadership
- Amy Rosenfeld-Kass: Teacher from The Saul and Carole Zabar Nursery School at the JCC
- Ben Rosloff: Communications and Jewish Inclusion Fellow in RespectAbilitys National Leadership Program
- Rachel Rothstein: 4th year Rabbinical Student at the Hebrew Union College Jewish Institute of Religion
- Barry Shore: Ambassador of Joy and Successful Serial Entrepreneur
- Ari Sloan: Member of EPIC Players who is living with Autism
- Joshua Steinberg: Program Associate for RespectAbility California and Jewish Leadership
- Brendan Stern: Assistant Professor of American politics and the Executive Director of the Center for Democracy in Deaf America at Gallaudet University
- Rabbi Lauren Tuchman: Rabbi, Public Speaker, Spiritual Leader and Educator
- Blair Webb: System Change Youth Advocate at MEET THE BIZ and former Jewish Inclusion Fellow in RespectAbilitys National Leadership Program
- Aaron Wolf: Co-founder of Howling Wolf Productions and Award-winning Actor, Director, Speaker, and Activist
‘keep The Change’ Tells The Love Story Of Two People On The Autism Spectrum
With a number of TV shows and movies portraying people on the autism spectrum, Keep the Change breathes new life into Hollywood by having individuals on the spectrum play autistic characters.
The romantic comedy is set in New York City and follows David, a wealthy 30-year-old on the autism spectrum who spends a lot of time looking at women on dating apps. David, played by Brandon Polansky, reluctantly becomes involved with a Jewish community center due to a court order for a misdemeanor. Most of the people at the center have an intellectual or learning disability.
Keep the Change is as much a rom-com as it is about finding self-love and acceptance. David meets Sarah, played by Samatha Elisofon, a woman on the spectrum who he first finds slightly annoying and wants nothing to do with. Through Sarahs help and energetic, positive look on life, David learns to accept those he views as different as well as himself.
The writer and director, Rachel Israel, said she wanted to portray adults on the spectrum in a realistic way.
Our ambition is to tell a love story that transcends the subject of disability and speaks to the universal need for human connection, and in the process to show how actors with autism can deliver compelling performances that are relatable to a wide audience, she said in a statement.
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Famous Athletes With Autism
Among other celebrities with autism are amazing athletes. If you dont recognize some of these people, dont fret but when I researched them they are indeed celebrities within their field!
Is Lionel Messi Autistic? The Autistic Community Network out of Australia reports that he is on the spectrum. (image source: , Wikipedia
Diagnosed with Autism
- Armani Williams Racecar Driver
- Samuel Von Einem Table Tennis Star
Reported/Rumored to Have Autism
- Lionel Messi Soccer Player
Strong Interests Support Success
One example of a trait of autism is called restricted interests. This is a type of restrictive behavior. Restricted interests have to do with how the person with ASD has an intense passion for a certain topic. Whereas people without autism often have a range of interests and can easily switch focus from one topic or activity to another and may not commit to excelling at one particular thing, people with autism may have a limited and narrow range of interests.
This characteristic may contribute to the success that many people with ASD experience in life. By being able to focus and maintain one core interest for years or even for most of ones life, the person with ASD can use this interest to accomplish great things.
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Keep The Change Is The Movie The Autistic Community Has Long Been Waiting For
Keep the Change is a heartwarming love story between two autistic adults played by no other than autistic actors. The film is cozy and funny without shying away from the reality of being autistic in a neurotypical world. Its the movie the community has long been waiting for.
Smiley, affectionate, and gregarious, Sarah breathes light into how Autism can express in women. She helps break down Davids defenses built up from a lifetime of trying to pass as non-autistic. Throughout the movie, you witness his struggle to camouflage his ticks and recover from jokes that are perceived as inappropriate by neurotypical women.
The two stumble through a quick romance. They hit bumps that are relatable beyond disability, but also showcase how judgmental attitudes towards differences can hinder relationships.
In the few films depicting autistic characters, their role usually illustrates the burden they place on the people around them. But Keep The Change veers from that trend and highlights how judgmental attitudes strain and harm autistic people and its a radical move for neurodivergent representation in film.
The director Rachel Israel involved the community at the JCC in the script and takes us on a journey through the characters growth and transformation. I got to talk to her about the film which is showing at the Quad Theatre in New York and Roxie Theatre in San Francisco. Check out our conversation below.
Reese: What was the impetus behind creating the film?
Famous People With Autism Spectrum Disorder
Autism can be challenging but there are many people on the spectrum who have achieved great heights.
Autism spectrum disorder is a diagnosis that is characterized by differences from the general population in the area of social skills, communication skills, as well as the presence of certain behaviors which may look atypical from other people. These behaviors are known as restrictive or repetitive behaviors.
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Is Keir Gilchrist Autistic
Keir Gilchrist plays teenager Sam Gardner in Netflixs Atypical. Sam is autistic in the show, causing many fans to ask is Keir Gilchrist autistic?
The answer is no:
Despite playing an autistic character, Gilchrist is not autistic. The actor did a great deal of research to get to the point where he could play an autistic person, including reading works by writer and speaker David Finch.
source: Newsweek, Atypical on Netflix: Is Sam Actor Keir Gilchrist Actually Autistic?, July 12, 2021
Famous People With Autism
There are many famous people with autism. They include athletes, actors, inventors, business leaders, authors and artists.
There are about 180 famous autistic people I found as part of our research on Ongigs series on neurodiversity. I felt inspired to list all these amazing people in one place!
Disclaimers: This list includes famous people with Autism who have been diagnosed and those who have been reported or rumored to fall somewhere on the Autism spectrum. I do my best to list resources for any questionable ones and welcome feedback, additions and edits! I am not an expert on autism.
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Barbara Mcclintock Scientist And Cytogeneticist
McClintock was a notable scientist who made important breakthroughs in the study of chromosomes and how they change during the reproduction process. She is thought to be autistic. She was able to focus for great lengths on her interests, specifically her work, and she found social attention very aversive, so much so that she almost refused the Nobel Prize.
With Keep The Change Seeing Autism Through A New Film Lens
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Movies about people with neurological challenges form a robust subgenre: I Am Sam, Awakenings, Girl, Interrupted, Rain Man and plenty others.
These films vary in quality and tone, but they do have one thing in common: a neuro-typical Hollywood actor playing the lead part, thus offering an inherently glossy view of complex lives.
Rachel Israel took a look at these movies and decided to go another way.
The debut filmmaker had a friend with autism Brandon Polansky, whom she met when they were in the same art class at Florida Atlantic University. She decided to build a romantic comedy around him.
I like Rain Man I always have been very moved by it, Israel said. But its taken from the brothers perspective. I wanted to make a human portrait that was from the persons perspective, fully flawed and unsanitized.
That impulse led to a short, Keep the Change, and then a feature by the same name a New York-set rom-com that explores its autistic characters lives from an intimately first-person point of view. The film is groundbreaking in its own low-key, charmingly naturalist way, one reason it just won a series of top prizes at the Tribeca Film Festival.
As she sat in a New York office last week alongside Polansky and fellow star Samantha Elisofon, Israel described a process thats as hard or harder than it sounds.
It wasnt, she said with a knowing smile, so easy-peasy.