Friday, February 24, 2012

A Glimpse of Their World

My husband and I recently watched a movie that really hit close to home.  The movie is called "Temple Grandin", and it was originally produced by and aired on HBO.  It's based on the true story of a woman named Temple Grandin who grew up in a time where autism was grossly misunderstood; the common remedy was to place these individuals in an institution.  Through the hard work of her mother, Temple was able to defy the odds by graduating from college and becoming a highly respected expert in her area of focus.  She has also has written several books about her life with autism and is a popular lecturer for conferences that address autism spectrum disorders.

There were several things I enjoyed about this movie.  First, I appreciated how the sensory issues were portrayed.  Sounds were highly exaggerated, such as the opening of an automatic door and a marker writing on paper.  There was also a very limited list of items Temple would eat, and she had aversions to particular clothing because of the way they felt.

We also appreciated the struggle Temple had when it came to accepting change; this is something we are constantly working on in our house :)  There were times throughout the movie where Temple would repeat something she'd heard over and over again, a phenomenon known as echolalia.  Little Guy also does this on occasion.  Sometimes, she'd get "stuck" on one idea or concept and was unable to move on - this is called perseverance, which we often see in our little son.  There is also a sequence of shots which portray the tendency of literal thinking that many people on the spectrum have.  These were often quite funny, and lent a quirky humor to the film.

One of the main themes this movie addressed was the Temple's inability to recognize and understand the social cues of society.  This proved very frustrating at times and affected her ability to make and maintain meaningful relationships.  This behavior is something that every person on the spectrum struggles with, and it can create chaos and disruption at home and at school. 

Despite Temple's disruptive and sometimes embarrassing behavior, there were individuals who were able to look past her handicap and recognize her enormous potential.  Her mother, an aunt, a high school teacher, and a college roommate helped form a support system which allowed Temple to grow, and eventually, excel by gaining self-sufficiency skills.  She became an independent, educated individual who has positively impacted our society, thus proving that the only "disabilities" we have are the ones we set for ourselves.

I would highly recommend this movie, especially to those of you who live or work closely with someone who's on the autism spectrum.  Not only does it provide insight to the world of autism, it promotes hope with its positive message.

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