What 's Eating Gilbert Grape?

884 Words4 Pages
In the 1993 drama What’s Eating Gilbert Grape? Leonardo DiCaprio plays Arnie Grape, a teenager with an intellectual disability. DiCaprio’s well-planned performance creates a believably realistic portrait of life for someone with autism and intellectual disability, showing the character’s own behaviors as well as reactions by family and community members. Arnie Grape exhibits many of the behaviors associated with autism spectrum disorder as well as intellectual disability in a more general sense. Intellectual disabilities may impact a person’s cognitive functions such as executive functions, reasoning, and judgement. Arnie climbs the town water tower multiple times even after getting into trouble each time previously. This shows a lack of reasoning and judgement. When his brother Gilbert leaves him in the bathtub and explains what to do to bathe himself, Arnie is not able to follow the instructions, resulting in him spending the night shivering in the cold bath water. This lack of executive functioning abilities helped to make the character believable. Arnie also showed some of the key social-behavioral traits of autism. One of Arnie’s physical movements, hand flapping, is a stereotypical repetitive behavior present in some people with autism. Arnie also exhibits communication issues in his lack of ability in the pragmatic use of language. When Gilbert first drives Becky home from the store, Arnie, sitting in the middle seat, does not give Becky any personal space,
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