Tag Archives: Documentary film

A Dream ~ Autism: The Documentary

Richard and I finished up our “staycation” by watching the Oscar nominated short documentaries at the IFC Center (Independent Film Channel) yesterday.  As I watched them I thought about the documentary I would most like to see.  It would be about Autism and Autistic people.  It would go back to Lovaas and Hans Aspergers, then Bettelheim, the evolution of what we thought we knew about Autism and those who are autistic and the ways in which we thought to “treat” it.  It would cover the move away from institutionalization to the current, though still negative thinking regarding the neurology we call Autism.  The documentary would have dozens and dozens of Autistic people of all ages, non-speaking, speaking, sometimes speaking, those who have careers, to those who are unable to work to those who work for themselves.   It would look at functioning labels and address why those labels work against everyone, it would cover the various myths surrounding autism and why those myths are ultimately destructive and limiting.  It would be a collaborative effort of Autistic and non-Autistic people.  It would be an example of what we can create if we work together, regardless of our neurology.  That’s the documentary I would like to see made.

Short of making such a documentary myself, I won’t hold my breath, though.  The whole idea of neurodiversity is considered radical and even threatening by many.  I understand that.  I understand that it is not a popular or particularly good way for organizations to raise money, especially those whose main goal is to fund research for treatments and cures.  I understand that change happens slowly.  I understand that any movement involving the rights of a minority moves slowly before it is embraced by more than a radical few.  But I also understand the power of good film making and that it can reach many more than any written piece could…

If you could see a documentary about Autism and Autistic people, what would it cover?

Em – 2003

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Laura Nagle – Paving the Way

The following was a “comment” sent to me by Laura Nagle, who is the star of the wonderful, powerful and not to be missed documentary:  Vectors of Autism: Laura Nagle.  I couldn’t just include it in the comments section, you will see why.  So I asked and received Laura’s permission to publish it here as a post on its own.

Laura Nagle writes:
“I self diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome several years ago. I told my sister, who told our father who confirmed my suspicions with recollection of my official autism diagnosis long ago, before the flood. I soon learned of a local chapter of the Autism Society of America, meeting in Flagstaff. I went there. Walking into that first meeting was a large and difficult step. I am so glad that I summoned the courage.

You see, I have always been autistic. I have always been a misfit in the world. I have had all the typical autism issues, but without having any answers as to why. I have paid my bills, but otherwise have wandered aimless upon the earth. I have lived in crushing financial poverty, as do far too many of us. I have found a form of poverty so much worse than that of mere money; and have lived this soul poverty most of my life.

You see, I have had nothing to give. I have been so deep in money trouble that I have not been able to give to charity. By the end of a day’s work in the real and generally entee world I am exhausted, and melted,  and depressed, and not capable of any optional accomplishments. And I have lacked any special worth or skill or talents. What can a poor, fatigued, worthless loner give to anyone. Nothing. Nothing at all. That is the desolation that I have endured. . .

. . . Until my walking into the meeting of the Northern Arizona chapter, ASA. I must note, and strongly, that my life did not change at that moment. That would be to assume that I had a life prior to the ASA chapter and the people I met there. I did not have a life, I had a rude existence. My life began at that moment.

I found the ASA and was found by them as well. It turns out that all that I learned during those harsh years is of value to others. It happens that I have an essential talent of putting an esoteric condition and its personal reality into words understandable by persons who will never experience it. This talent is a gift, I cannot take credit for it, but I will use it as well and as often as I can.

I am motivated. As I scan the decades of my life I see so many ”autistic moments” in which I adjusted my life’s trajectory downward. I see so many moments in which things might have turned out better for me if only I. . . If only someone near me had known the whats and hows of autism. They did not. I want new ones of my Spectrumite Tribe to excel! I want them to do far better than have I! I want them to exceed me in every way.

And I have the chance to do this! These wonderful people around me, people of ASA, people of TASH, these people have given me purpose and friendship and thus life itself – on a silver platter! I have gone so long in a drought! I have people and purpose! The drought is broken, and I am blessed beyond my wildest dreams, and I so deeply appreciate it all!

Without the ever growing people I cannot fulfill my purpose. I need people to dream with me and also for support and guidance. I need those people who listen to my message and apply these concepts in real life and so insure that new auties shall exceed me and my success! People and purpose. I would never have dreamed of this. I have thanks that would take several lives to give.

And I would like to offer those thanks here! Thanks big and wide to the ”Vectors of Autism” team, to my ASA and TASH friends and to all who watch our film and are moved by it. Special thanks go to John, our director, who insisted on making this film more than a documentary. Thanks to our cameraman, Matt who lent his vision – literally! And most of all, thanks to Susan, producer of this film, and of my life!

Dang I am lucky!”

*I believe, but I haven’t verified this with Laura, that when she writes “entee” she is referring to NT (neurotypical).

I was going to title this post “Laura Nagle – Paving the Way For Emma” because Laura is, but it isn’t just Emma who profits from her words and this documentary.  The more Autistics are given a platform from which they can speak out, discuss their experience of the world, the better this world will be for all of us, not just our children, but for every single child and every human being on this earth.

Thank you Laura for writing this.  Thank you for being who you are.  And thank you Leah Kelley of Thirty Days of Autism for introducing me to Laura.