Thursday, September 8, 2011

Autism and "Loving Lampposts"

Autism is a subject that hits home for many. My family is no exception. My oldest son has been diagnosed with  Asperger's and my middle son is currently considered Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD). With all of the attention that autism and disorders related to its spectrum have been receiving in recent years, it still seems as though most of the general public is confused, or simply uninformed concerning these conditions. One reason for this, could be the fact that doctors and families dealing with autism often  appear to be just as confused as everyone else.

I recently watched a documentary over autism, Loving Lampposts, that sought to explore and shed some light on this mysterious condition. Filmmaker, Todd Drezner, does a good job of showing the many sides and reactions to autism. After watching the film and reading his Directors statement, I can really relate to his point of view. His attitude towards his son and how best to love and help him, is right in line with my views. They aren't "sick" or horribly disabled, they are just different. But, aren't we all? 

If you would like to learn more about autism, I highly recommend Loving Lampposts. I've included a clip below.

Here is the synopsis from their site.


As autism has exploded into the public consciousness over the last 20 years, two opposing questions have been asked about the condition: is it a devastating sickness to be cured? Or is it a variation of the human brain — just a different way to be human?

After his son's diagnosis, filmmaker Todd Drezner visits the front lines of the autism wars. We meet the "recovery movement," which views autism as a tragic epidemic brought on by environmental toxins. Operating outside the boundaries of mainstream medicine, these parents, doctors, and therapists search for unconventional treatments that can "reverse" autism and restore their children to normal lives.

We meet the 'neurodiversity' movement, which argues that autism should be accepted and autistic people supported. This group argues that the focus on treatments and cures causes the wider society to view autistic people as damaged and sick. Acceptance is the better way, but how do you practice acceptance of autism in a world where the very word can terrify parents?

And we meet a too often ignored group: autistic adults. It's these adults who show just how tricky it is to judge an autistic person's life. Is an autistic woman who directs academic research about autism recovered? What if the same woman has trouble speaking and uses text-to-speech software to communicate? Is an autistic man who lives in his own apartment recovered? What if his mother must hire people to do his laundry and take him out in the evenings?

This wide angle view of autism makes clear what's at stake in the autism wars. Will we live in a world dominated by autism conferences where vendors hawk vitamins and hyperbaric chambers to parents desperate for a cure? Or will we provide the support that autistic adults need to lead the best lives they can? And can these two worlds possibly co-exist?
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