Martha Rooney (Dancing Trees)

From Autistic characters wiki
Martha Rooney
Portrayed by Katie Boland[1]
Appears in Dancing Trees
Year 2009

Martha Rooney is a main character in the drama movie Dancing Trees (possible also known as Partners in Crime[2]


Martha is an 18-year-old who lives an altogether peaceful life with her mother, Josephina. She's also close with Nicole, Josephina's somewhat chaotic goddaughter.[note 1] One night, Josephina is shot by a couple of robbers, with Martha being the only witness. In hospital, Josephina uses her dying breath to ask Nicole to take care of Martha. However Martha first gets sent to her estranged father, who doesn't really want to take care of her since he has a new life and a new family. She then gets sent to a "special-ed foster home for retarded adults", since her dad and his new family couldn't "deal" with her. Nicole tries to get custody of her, but the police don't allow it, even though Martha really doesn't like the foster home. Eventually they let Martha live with her, on the condition that Nicole can get some kind of testimony from her to find the ones who murdered Josephine. Nicole tries her best to look after Martha, but she is inexperienced and doesn't always know the best way to interact with her. Martha also misses her mom a lot and deals with flashbacks to the night of the shooting,

Meanwhile, the robbers have figured out that Martha was a witness, and try to find her in order to eliminate her.


3 panels. panel 1: water flowing over smooth stones. the shimmer on the water is very intense. panel 2: Martha's mom lying on the ground, bleeding out. her blood is fluorescent green-yellow. brightly-colored feathers float over the frame. panel 3: Martha looks into an aquarium with fish lures. there are lots of shimmers in the water.
Shots showing how Martha perceives the world

Martha is described as having "a form of autism" on the production company's website.[3] She often repeats sentences or fragments of sentences, and also uses echolalia. She also makes references to books she's read or things she's watched on television. She has trouble verbalizing precisely what she means, so what she says ends up sounding sort of cryptic. This all makes getting a testimony very difficult. Her mom understands most of these references, and Nicole does too after looking them up.

She likes visual stimulation; looking at flowing water, aquariums, reflections off a shiny car, or the moving shadows that trees cast on the wall (hence the title Dancing Trees). She stims by rocking back and forth, and flapping her hands. Multiple POV shots throughout the movie show how her visual perception is different from most people, with shimmering objects being more intense than others. Her audio perception is also somewhat distorted, a scene where multiple people are talking results in echoing and overlapping voices.

Throughout the first half of the movie, she carries a doll with her everywhere as a comfort object. At her mother's funeral, Martha remarks "she doesn't like it in there, she's lonely", and then throws her doll in with the casket.

Martha is a savant, being able to do advanced mental math, and read books at a speed of mere seconds per page. She learned to read at age 3.

After accidentally knocking down a vase during a meltdown, she's able to rapidly put the pieces back together, and a POV shot shows her visualizing how the pieces fit together.


See also

  • Director Anne Wheeler also directed 3 episodes of the series Strange Empire


  1. While Nicole refers to herself as Martha's cousin, she also corrects an officer who refers to Josephina as Nicole's aunt, saying Josephina is her godmother. Multiple other people, including the news, also refer to Nicole as Martha's cousin.


  1. (2008-11-07). The PCZ Interview with Sanctuary’s Amanda Tapping: Part Two. Retrieved on 2023-03-05. “I play the mother of an autistic savant, who’s a remarkable young woman played by Katie Boland”
  2. "Anne Wheeler". Archived from the original on 2013-01-18. Retrieved 2024-05-11.
  3. DANCING TREES — Nasser Entertainment. Retrieved on 2023-03-05. “Martha, 18, has a form of autism”

External links