Two recently published papers discuss the depictions of autism in cinema and on television:
Nordahl-Hansen, A., Tøndevold, M., & Fletcher-Watson, S. (2017). Mental health on screen: A DSM-5 dissection of portrayals of autism spectrum disorders in film and TV. Psychiatry Research.
Nordahl-Hansen, A., Øien, R. A., & Fletcher-Watson, S. (2017). Pros and Cons of Character Portrayals of Autism on TV and Film. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 1-2.
The increasing appearance of autistic characters in popular TV shows and films is hoped to increase awareness of the condition. The researchers looked at how accurate those portrayals are and whether they perpetuate stereotypes of the condition. They concluded that the characters meet the DSM-5 diagnostic criteria for autism. A big percentage of those characters, however, are presented as savants while the prevalence of savant abilities in autism is rather small. The authors still believe in the educational value of film and TV portrayals of autism even thought they cannot substitute interacting with autistic people in real life.