Vectors of Autism: Laura Nagle For those of you who have not yet viewed this powerful documentary, you must. I cannot urge you enough. Just do it. Watch it. Keep a box of tissue nearby, because if you’re like me, you’ll need it. I wept throughout the entire film, from joy, from sadness, from relief that such a film has finally been made, from pain that we have so far to go in educating ourselves, the public, the media about autism and what it means to be autistic. At one point Laura laughs and says, “I figure I was built out of reworked parts.” It is a poignant example of both her sense of humor, but also how society’s view of her has weighed heavily.
Anything I say about this documentary is inadequate. So I’m going to give you a couple of fun facts while you click on that link above and purchase the DVD. I know, it’s $35.00 but think of it as an investment in your child’s future and to the future of this film. The more people who buy it, the more likely it will make it to film festivals, and to the larger public where this message needs to be seen more than ever.
Laura Nagle wrote the lyrics to the theme song and plays the harmonica on it, she’s also an architect, an artist and Autistic. It’s hauntingly beautiful, which is kind of perfect because so is she and so is the documentary about her. The couple in the documentary with two little girls on the spectrum, Jennifer Turrell and Stewart Anderson wrote the music.
*Addendum – I was so tired when I wrote this post late last night, I just didn’t have the energy to write more. But I need to add, this documentary is everything I and others like me have been saying. It is imperative Autistics speak out about their experiences and it is vital that we, in the neuromajority, listen. For those of you who are still uncertain as to why I say this, it is because I know I am not the only parent of an autistic child who went through a hellish period (far too many years) in which I struggled with my daughter’s diagnosis and what that meant to her and to us as her family. I tried my best to understand, I did what I could with the knowledge I had available to me, but even so, I fell short. I cannot help but wonder, had I heard Laura Nagle and others speak of their experience, would I have done things differently? Would my stress and fears have been abated even if only by a little? Would I have sought the opinions of all those specialists with such tenacity and fervor? Would I have been able to set aside some of my fears in favor of a more rational and calmer mindset? And most importantly, would any of this have effected Emma? I think it would have. I hope others can learn from some of my mistakes. I hope that by writing about my journey, others who are closer to the beginning of theirs can avoid some of the traps I so easily and readily fell into.
What I know now is that having operated with a stress level hovering in the red for so many years, I am relieved to see this documentary. I am grateful to have friends who are autistic and whose lives, opinions and experiences help pave the way for my daughter. The question is – how do we go about making these kinds of connections available to other families? Families who do not have blogs, who do not know where to go to find Autistic adults who are interested in speaking to them and sharing their experiences with them.
One of the reasons 12-step programs work as well as they do, is because they provide a model for living through mentorship. The role of the addict who has cobbled together some time as a sober and abstinent being, who then goes on to offer support to other addicts with less experience and who may be still struggling with their addictions is a powerful model for any community. A huge component of 12-step programs is the idea of being of service. Without being of service to a fellow addict we will almost certainly lose our way. But this idea, this model can be translated to include any community. Within the autism community, for those self-appointed Autistics who have a desire to extend their hand to families with autistic children, it is a vital lifeline, one that everyone involved can profit from.
If you’re still undecided here’s a preview video:
After you have watched it, I want to hear your thoughts. What did you think? What did you learn? What surprised you? What made you cry? What made you laugh? Laura is very funny, so that one is probably easy! Laura has not just started a conversation, she is extending her hand. It is up to us to grab it.