Asperger’s, Autism, and the Square Root of 2: A Neurodiversity Documentary
“Asperger’s, Autism, and The Square Root of 2” tells the story of one parent’s journey to discovering that his daughter, recently diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome (also referred to as Autism Spectrum Disorder or ASD), has a brain that works just a little bit differently.
In 2010, retired orthopedic surgeon and heavyweight boxer Dr. Harold “Hackie” Reitman set out to make his first feature length film. He decided to base the story on his daughter’s experiences in college and began writing the screenplay for what would become “The Square Root of 2.” Dr. Reitman also acted as executive producer and co-director. Soon after, Darby Stanchfield (of ABC’s “Scandal”) and Brett Rice (of Remember the Titans, Forrest Gump), signed on to co-star.
Shortly after filming was completed, Dr. Reitman’s daughter was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome. Despite his medical background, Dr. Reitman had little idea what this diagnosis truly meant. Wanting to learn all he could about Asperger’s, he began researching the condition. Over the next four years, he learned not just about Asperger’s, but also autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and the recently coined terminology, “neurodiversity.”. The lessons he learned about being a father of an “Aspie,” and the insights he gleaned about how his daughter’s mind worked, became the foundation of of his book, “Aspertools: The Practical Guide for Understanding and Embracing Asperger’s, Autism Spectrum Disorders, and Neurodiversity,” which was published in April 2015.
After writing the book, Dr. Reitman began to view his film in an entirely different light. Darby Stanchfield had studied his daughter and her mannerisms so well – and had given such a nuanced performance – that he realized that the character she played in “The Square Root of 2” was clearly “on the spectrum.”
In this documentary, Dr. Reitman and a host of experts – including education visionary Dr. Abraham Fischler, celebrated psychologist Dr. Lori Butts, and “The Autism Doctor” Dr. Brian Udell – use clips from “The Square Root of 2” to explain many of the common traits of the growing neurodiverse population, explore the challenges they face, and offer helpful tools for everyone.
This documentary is being presented by Different Brains Inc. with the permission of its original producers, PCE Media, LLC.
90 SECOND TRAILER:
For a complete transcript of this documentary, click here.
Different Brains® Inc. founder Harold “Hackie” Reitman, M.D. is an author, filmmaker, retired orthopedic surgeon, former professional heavyweight boxer, the past chairman and president (and current board member) of The Boys and Girls Clubs of Broward County, and a neurodiversity advocate. However, it was his role as a father that led to the creation of the DifferentBrains.org website.
Hackie’s daughter Rebecca grew up with epilepsy, 23 vascular brains tumors, and underwent 2 brain surgeries before the age of 5. Her struggles and recovery put him on the road to, through 26 professional heavyweight boxing matches, raising money for children’s charities (to which he donated every fight purse).
Rebecca eventually went on to graduate from Georgia Tech with a degree in Discrete Mathematics, and Dr. Reitman wrote and produced a film based on her experiences there (The Square Root of 2, starring Darby Stanchfield of ABC’s Scandal). After graduation, Rebecca received a diagnosis of Asperger’s syndrome. Hackie, shocked at his own ignorance of the topic despite being an M.D., embarked on years of research that culminated with his book Aspertools: The Practical Guide for Understanding and Embracing Asperger’s, Autism Spectrum Disorders, and Neurodiversity (released by HCI books, publishers of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series).
This experience revealed to Hackie the interconnectedness of the conditions that fall under the neurodiversity umbrella, while alerting him to the in-fighting and fractured relations that often plague the organizations tasked with serving the community. Convinced that overcoming these schisms could help all of society, Hackie forged the Different Brains philosophy of inclusive advocacy: “Supporting Neurodiversity – From Autism to Alzheimer’s and All Brains In Between”.
In the company’s initial years of operation, Hackie self-financed all of the content on DifferentBrains.org, all of which offered free to view to the public. Currently he is the host of our weekly interview show Exploring Different Brains, writes blogs for the site, and tours the country speaking at conferences, conventions and private functions, all with the goal of improving the lives of neurodiverse individuals and their families, and maximizing the potential of those with different brains. Separate from Different Brains, Hackie is the founder and CEO of PCE Media, a media production company focusing on reality based content. He recently co-executive produced the documentary “Foreman”, the definitive feature documentary on legendary boxer and pitchman George Foreman.