The Pleasing List

Today’s post comes to us from Film maker Jonathan Carlander, who has made a short movie about Asperger’s Syndrome. The film features a student who has Asperger’s Syndrome. It has received critical acclaim from many in the Autism Community.

When I attended film school, I never planned on directing my own thesis film. I was an editing major, but on top of that, I was suffering from anxiety and depression problems that I partly blamed on my Asperger’s Syndrome. In my third year, when I took my thesis class with dozens of other seniors, these problems took control of my chances of learning and making more friends. I couldn’t stand the sensory overload or the lack of familial bonding that my fellow students seemed to have with each other. I felt greatly alienated.

Despite these problems, I became determined to walk out of school with not just a BFA, but with a thesis film that meant something dear to me or said something about me as a person. That Spring break I wrote several drafts of the script. When the new semester began, I took the risk of asking fellow students to help bring that script to life. To my surprise, several of them willingly agreed and, after endless planning and organization, we shot the film in two days in May. I was incredibly anxious inside, as all directors are I’m sure, but I managed to hide it through humor and focus. Having incredibly talented actors and a dedicated crew helped a lot, too! This is how my thesis film, “The Pleasing List”, came to be, which has had over 35,000 hits on YouTube since I posted it this past July. Many people in the Aspie community have praised the film, including Dr. Tony Attwood. I hope that my film will continue to show those inside and outside of the Aspie community what those with Asperger’s can achieve, both personally and academically.

Mark Blakey

Mark Blakey is the founder of the Aspergers Test Site, after a successful career working in IT Mark wanted to share what he learned from his own diagnosis. He is the author of "Emotional Mastery for Adults with Aspergers" and "An Introduction to Aspergers Syndrome". Having received lots of questions from parents with autistic children, Mark went on to found Autism Parenting Magazine. The magazine has become an essential resource aimed at improving the quality of life for families effected by Autism. Its a monthly publication containing lots of helpful articles to help develop social skills, manage challenging behavior and improve communication.

  • Martin says:

    Wouldn’t it be good if it happened like this in real life?
    Sadly it doesn’t.

    • Bill says:


      • E says:

        Cool film! I’m still having trouble with relationships. I know, because people tell me, I’m not ugly. But in communication it’s difficult keeping conversations going. Nowadays only about subjects like scuba diving and photography I can speak all day. I’m Also good in writing poetry and playing by script. Music and drawing were in the past my thing and after that hockey and tennis. But still I also experienced bullying me at school because I was not speaking loud enough for my schoolmates, I was always the last person who laughed about a joke. But when I had a joke no one could laugh about it only me. I hope some day I find someone with whom I can be myself. Great job with your film. I know it’s possible to find someone. Thanks.

  • terry hand says:

    Really good work Jonathan. This actually brought tears to my eyes.

  • JR says:

    I didn’t get diagnosed until after my son was diagnosed. I always had a hard time being with normal people and I was only brave enough to talk to females that seemed broken, lost or alone. Normal people scare me and I am surprised I ever had girl-friends and especially got married, but I digress not knowing why I always felt alone in crowded rooms was the worst part and this little film just reminded me how tough it is to be us. I have worked very hard with my 17 year old son to develop his “pleasing list” and get the right medications for his depression but being 40 now I sure wish I knew what was wrong with me when I was young it might have helped me be a better person.

    • E says:

      Yeah, 37 years now and when I’m really having Asperger after seeing my psychiatrist tomorrow. I hope I can learn to manage and better being able to cope with my experienced difficulties. With an IQ of 160 and being female it shouldn’t be that difficult. My learning curve is steep upwards thanks to my study medicine. I can do better. But I need to know if I’m really have Asperger (or not) to cope with my life more easily.

  • Susan says:

    Nice film, but how is he able to talk so easily with the girl.?

    I have never been able to initiate anything in my life. Friendships etc.
    And dont have a clue when someone might be interested in me. Flies past me and its gone.
    And I am too scared/anxious to say anything to someone I might find attractive.

    But, nice film, glad it is doing so well…

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