My wife is a special education teacher, so I've heard of autistic students with the same sort of fascination with Spidey or Superman or Batman as the child in this must-read article. Mostly it's Spider-Man, though. Since autistic children often have trouble reading facial expressions, I wonder if Spider-Man's colorful costume but rather emotionally neutral (and therefore nonthreatening?) mask is a draw?
Thanks to Orion for drawing my attention to this moving piece of journalism from the BBC.