Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Movies from Another Planet

The presence of people with disabilities on the screen – both big and small, as both documentary and fictitious characters – can only help to remove the taboo of disability and activate the inclusion of those with disabilities. Here are five movies worth watching about and featuring special children.

My Left Foot (1989)
Watch this unforgettable but inspiring clip!

This classic is based on the autobiography of Irish writer and painter Christy Brown (Daniel Day-Lewis), who had cerebral palsy. Growing up impoverished in Ireland, Brown had very limited communication as a child, but went on to use the tremendous dexterity in his toes not only to write, but to paint and have a remarkable art career. Daniel Day-Lewis and Brenda Fricker both won the Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role and Best Actress in a Supporting Role, respectively.

Lorenzo's Oil (1992)
Trailer:                                                       Movie:
Susan Sarandon and Nick Nolte give brilliant performances as parents trying to save the life of their son Lorenzo in George Miller's harrowing and heartbreaking Lorenzo's Oil. They are told that Lorenzo has been diagnosed with adrenoleukodystrophy (ALD), a rare and incurable nerve disease that is always fatal. When they are told to be patient as they watch their son sink further into the debilitating illness, they take matters into their own hands and start their own investigation of the disease. The cast includes 16 special children. Based on a true story.

Son-Rise: The Miracle of Love (1979) (with Spanish subtitles)

Starring James Farentino and Kathryn Harrold. Barry Neil Kaufman and his wife Samahria won the Humanitas Prize for their screenplay of this NBC docudrama, after helping their once-autistic son Raun emerge from the “incurable” illness of autism. Adapted by the biographical book Son-Rise (currently Son-Rise: The Miracle Continues), it is the real life story of how, according to his parents, Raun Kaufman completely recovered from severe autism.

Praying with Lior (2007)
Trailer:                                                      Movie:

This tracks the real-life journey of Lior, a boy with a comparatively mild form of Down syndrome, as he prepares for his Bar Mitzvah. The film moves beyond the logistics of living with Down syndrome and explores the interaction of disability and faith.

Monica and David (2009)

An upbeat story of a married couple with Down syndrome and their quest for independence. These two high-functioning adults find that as close as they come to living a “normal” life, it always seems out of reach. Available on Netflix.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Letters from Another Planet

Three good books written about and by people with autism.

Autism Heroes: Portraits of Families Meeting the Challenge

About the Book: Autism Heroes provides a compelling and sensitive account of the experiences of 38 families from different walks of life confronting the challenges of autism with courage, tenacity and love. With empathy and expertise gained from her three decades of leadership of The Help Group and her commitment to children with special needs, Dr. Barbara Firestone engages the families in candid, powerful and deeply affecting conversations about their lives.

Review: Autism's Heroes is a gift to the autism community. Raising a child with autism has never been easy, but it just got easier, thanks to Barbara Firestone's wisdom and compassion, Joe Buissink's sensitive images and the courageous families willing to share their most intimate stories. Pediatricians can now say to families coping with a new diagnosis, "Have I got a book for you!" — Eileen Costello, MD

Thinking in Pictures: My Life with Autism

About the Book: Here, in Temple Grandin's own words, is her story of what it is like to live with autism, to be among the few people who have broken through many of the neurological impairments associated with autism. She describes her painful isolation growing up "different" and her discovery of visual symbols to interpret the "ways of the natives." Thinking In Pictures is written from the front lines of autism, including treatment, medication, and diagnosis. Ultimately, it is Temple's unique ability to describe the way her visual mind works and how she first made the connection between her impairment and animal temperament that is the basis of her extraordinary gift and phenomenal success. About her book Temple says: "I don't want my thoughts to die with me. I want to have done something ... I want to know that my life has meaning ... I'm talking about things at the very core of my existence."

In 2010 Temple Grandin was named one of Time Magazine's 100 Most Influential People. In the same year, an HBO movie about her life, Temple Grandin, won the Emmy award for Outstanding Made for Television Movie.

Nobody Nowhere: The Remarkable Autobiography of an Autistic Girl

About the Book: Donna Williams was a child with more labels than a jam-jar: deaf, wild disturbed, stupid insane...She lived within herself, her own world her foreground, ours a background she only visited. Isolated from herself and from the outside world, Donna was, in her words, a Nobody Nowhere.

She swung violently between these two worlds, battling to join our world and, simultaneously, to keep it out. After twenty-five years of being misunderstood, and unable to understand herself, Donna stumbled upon the word `autism`: a label, but one which held up a mirror and made sense of her life and struggles. Nobody Nowhere is now an international bestseller, sold in over 14 languages throughout the world. This is a book that will stay with you as one of the most exceptional works you will ever read.

Review: I am the grandparent of an autistic child and found this book so helpful I would recommend that it be made mandatory reading for all professionals who work with autistic persons. I would also strongly urge all others who have autistic persons in their lives to read it. The book has given me insight regarding my grandson's behavior and suggestions of ways to help him. Until experts and their research can provide explanations and perhaps cures for autism, the lived experience of an autistic person, such as Donna Williams provides in her books, is the best help available for those of us who care about and relate to an autistic person.— Linda M. Dean

Check the Autism Society's book store for these books and many more.

Autism Society of
North Carolina Bookstore
505 Oberlin Road, Suite 230
Raleigh, NC 27605-1345
Tel: 919-743-0204
1-800-442-2762 (NC only)
Fax: 919-743-0208

Monday, January 6, 2014

THANK YOU Frankie Lemmon School!

I just received a large box in the mail. Couldn't figure out what it was until I saw "Frankie Lemmon" on it. I opened it and discovered this large hand-made (and fired) ceramic candy dish and a note that said "Love from all of us." So, THANK YOU Frankie Lemmon School, from the bottom of my heart. I love you too!