The autistic ‘Beautiful Boy’

Bb Photo 4

The daily life of living with someone who is autistic can be, at times, difficult to describe.

I, myself, work better with pictures and images. To me it is easier to see the impact of something when it is right before my eyes. Words could vividly describe the life of someone in poverty, but the story will truly resonate with me when I see it with my own two eyes.

“World of Jenks” on MTV has done a great job giving a face to the autism community. Jenks’ relationship with Chad is inspiring and I cannot help but smile when those two interact with each other.

In summer 2012, my parents went to see this play called “Beautiful Boy.” The play featured Richard Repetta, played by Lindsay Smiling, and Conner Repetta, played by Aubie Merrylees, his autistic son. After seeing the first show, my parents bought a couple of tickets for a friend and me. Going into the play, I was not sure what to expect. All my parents told me was that it personified the daily life at the Foti household.

Throughout the play, I felt every single emotion on the spectrum. Peter Pryor’s writing was

Richard Repetta, played by Lindsay Smiling, and his co-star Aubie Merrylees. Merrylees plays a variety of characters in the play including Conner, Richard's wife and a therapist.

Smiling, and his co-star Merrylees. Merrylees plays a variety of characters in the play including Conner, Richard’s wife and a therapist. Photo courtesy of: People’s Light and Theater Company.

incredible. While “World of Jenks” shows the life of an autistic individual, “Beautiful Boy” gave the story from the parent’s perspective. From the mountains of paper work, to arguments, to finding your autistic son with underwear on his head, Pryor had my emotional investment in these characters.

As you can probably imagine, this play hit home. From the beginning of the play to the end, Richard Repetta seeks to make his son act like everybody else. He wants him to ride a bike like the kids down the street. He wants to connect with Conner, but finds it hard to fathom that his son is not “normal.”

In the final scene of the film, Richard is sitting on the floor, watching home videos. Conner is on the couch in front of him. A few minutes into the home videos, Conner gets up from the couch and sits next to his father. Richard is stunned. It is this moment where he realizes that his son is just like everyone else. That Conner loves his father, despite his struggles to cope with his autism.

During this scene, I tried as hard as I could to hold back tears, but it was useless. Throughout my life, I have dealt with those same challenges to connect with my brother Brian on a personal level. The final scene in “Beautiful Boy” brought more than twenty years of inner struggle out of me.

If you ever get a chance to see “Beautiful Boy” I highly recommend it. The actors were so deeply involved with their characters and truly cared about their performances. Through the emotional scenes, there is also humor. Pryor has stressed that autism itself is not funny, but there is humor to be found in the daily lives of autistic people.


3 thoughts on “The autistic ‘Beautiful Boy’

  1. Aunt Jeanne

    Great post, Tom…. I’ll have to catch that show when it comes to town…so Proud of you!

  2. Princess Jasmine (aka Katie)


    I just caught up on all of your postings. This blog is amazing and I truly enjoy reading everything that you write! Keep it up and I can’t wait to read more!! ❤

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