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The Black Balloon

Toni Collette, Luke Ford, Rhys Wakefield, Erik Thompson
Spoiler alert
Blog entry

A family's emotional challenges and triumphs in raising a child with autism.

Thomas tells the new neighbors of his brother Charlie, "He's autistic." (0:01) How can we tell that Charlie is autistic rather than mentally retarded, or both?

Charlie's mother Maggie administers unidentified medication to Charlie orally using a syringe. (0:04)

Thomas administers medication to Charlie orally using a syringe. (0:15, 0:29)

Maggie uses sign language to communicate with Charlie who we learn has been mute for years. (0:19) We have no reason to believe Charlie is deaf. Why does his mother sign to him?

Charlie's dad Simon tells social service workers visiting his home, "That'd be Charlie. He's autistic, you know. ADD on top of that. (0:49) Do we see any signs of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder? If not, could it be that the medication administered by syringe treats it effectively?

Note the similarities between Charlie and Arnie in What's Eating Gilbert Grape.