Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Autism: The Musical

I just watched the documentary Autism: The Musical, which I found heartwarming and sweet. It's about a woman who decides to start a theatre group for children with Autism and their parents, called The Miracle Project. Inspired by her own son, Neal, who is non-verbal, she wishes to help reach out to other kids experiencing similar issues.

The viewer gets to know many different children, including Henry, a boy with Asperger's who has an obsession with dinosaurs; Wyatt, a highly-verbal boy who has trouble with bullies; Adam, a charming little boy who plays the cello and has tantrums every now and then; Lexi, a 14-year-old girl with a beautiful singing voice who enjoys mimicking others, as well as many other kids.

In the movie, the parents discuss what having a child with Autism can be like, and their fears and concerns for their child. There is also a visible transformation (especially from Lexi's mother) in some of the parents regarding their understanding of Autism, which I think is one of the most powerful things that can be presented in a film. It reminds us that there are still prejudices out there, that no matter what we do, Autism won't be universally understood for a long time.

This film is not idealistic; it is not trying to tear Autism apart. What Autism: The Musical does is present the viewer with the diverse ways in which Autism can manifest in an individual, as well as the struggles that individual may deal with on a daily basis. It also shows us how beautiful the life of an Autistic individual can be - full of passion and dedication, to start, and how it creates a change in that child's parents, who are able to see the world in a whole new way.

I can't begin to tell you how I relate to these children: I threw tantrums like Adam's. I was bullied, similarly to Wyatt. My childhood obsession with Pokemon is comparable to Henry's obsession with dinosaurs, and, like Neal, I can see the world in an entirely different way. Furthermore, I can only wish to experience Lexi's joy when she makes that endearing grin at the camera.

This film is a must-see for anyone on the Autism Spectrum, for parents of Autistic children, siblings, family members, educators, psychologists, therapists, social workers - even anyone with the slightest bit of curiosity or misunderstanding. If you're reading this blog right now, I urge you to see it, and encourage you to recommend it to someone who would learn a little something.

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