Tully explores quite a bit about the emotional and physical toll a newborn can take on a mother. It also shows how much mental health is improved when someone is there to help, as the night nanny demonstrates. But the thing about Charlize Theron’s character, Marlo, is that she stated she suffered from depression since around the time her second child, Jonah was born. There are numerous other signs throughout the film that indicate the people behind this project intended for him to have autism.
The first sign is in the opening scene, when Marlo starts her routine of scrubbing Jonah’s body as if he were a horse. She takes a brush, turns on some music, and scrubs his arms, legs, and back, because it calms him. This is not uncommon with autism, many children on the spectrum have found peculiar ways to calm their overloading senses. In my own experience, when I was little, I rocked back and forth in my bed every night to help me get to sleep and would run around the living room while verbalizing some fantasized story I was coming up with as a way of letting out my imagination. It goes on for many others in similar cases, some rock in their seats, some spin on the swing set real fast, some step into a hug machine, if you met a child with autism, odds are he or she has discovered an odd way of calming down.