A Different Kind of Boy documents Alexander’s transition from boy to manhood. As he turns 18, Alexander moves out from the comfort of his mother’s home and into his new life of independence and discovery. His situation is deemed “different” though, as Alexander has been diagnosed with Autism. As his older brother bonds with Alexander to help transition him into manhood, the pair embark on a trip to Barcelona.
A Different Kind of Boy doesn’t exploit Alexander’s Autism to incite empathy or pity, as many other documentaries might attempt to do. Rather, it’s a portrait of an 18-year-old boy. The documentary primarily focuses on his humour, hard work, and athleticism. It’s almost as if the film is telling us that this is an 18-year-old boy who happens to have Autism and that it’s not a trait that should simply define him.
However, A Different Kind of Boy does provide a look at how Autism affects Alexander’s everyday tasks, like tying up his soccer cleats or getting ready for bed. The documentary has long sequences that follow Alexander’s everyday rituals in such a way that they help transition from one point of his day to another. The documentary doesn’t ignore how Autism may affect Alexander and his surroundings, but it does a good job at reminding the audience that it isn’t the only thing to him.