Monday, September 14, 2009

Movie Review---the new "Asperger movie" Adam

Have any of you heard of this movie? It was released around August, but it is more one of those "film society" movies, so it isn't in all the theaters. It is about a guy who has Asperger's whose father dies and leaves him to live alone in an apartment. A girl moves in next door and they develop a relationship with all sorts of ups and downs while she is trying to figure him out.

Well, I had looked forward to seeing this movie and taking my cute Aspie husband to see it as well. I had seen several previews and I thought it might be an interesting and funny movie for us both.

First off when getting into the movie I felt kind of bad or even guilty for taking my husband to such a movie because the actor portraying the man with Asperger's was a little bit too "childish" or something. Not exactly, but it's like he talked almost babyish or like someone who you would look at and obviously think had some kind of mental issues. I didn't want my husband to think I thought he was like this guy. Not that there was anything wrong with him, but it just seemed a little too much. It seemed to get better as the movie went on, but it almost upset me to think people might go into this movie and come out thinking Aspies are totally unable to be independent and take care of themselves or fit in.

There were many parts of the movie that hit Asperger's dead on. Things about how an Aspie may not see the need to do something unless specifically asked, or things about how they can talk a little too much without realizing they need to change the subject. My husband and I laughed at these parts and recognized them for what they were.

In all actual, the character reminded me more of my 9 year old Aspie son. I could see him in the character, more unable to know how to do things or adapt to social situations. But as the movie went on I began to understand where they were coming from.

This character seemed to have a very sheltered life until his dad died. He was a kid with Asperger's grown to an adult who probably had his dad handle everything. He had never been out of the city by himself or really done anything by himself. This is where I began to understand the character as a "sheltered" Aspie. Toward the end of the movie it showed more realistically that of my husband who had learned to adapt to the "ways of the world" or had figured out how to "fake" things in a sense to fit in. You could still tell it wasn't easy, but it showed that an Aspie can get a long just fine in life and it doesn't have to be made into such a big deal.

I guess I have mixed feelings on this movie. It kind of made me worry that other people are going to think Asperger's is a major disability, when I don't believe it is. Maybe I'm wrong, but I think of it more as a way of thinking difference almost as if it were a different culture and not so much a disability. In college I got my degree in Interpreting for the Deaf and we never looked at Deaf people as having a disability, but instead having a culture all their own. It's just a different way of life.

My husband liked the movie, however hated the ending. It wasn't exactly a happy ending, and the girl in it didn't understand what the guy meant in the end. And it bugs me that I understood what the guy meant although he couldn't put the right words out, but I know that most audiences are going to take what he said literally and not understand along with the girl and so think that the guy was dumb and could never do right in the world.

OK, so I don't want to spoil this movie for anyone as to why I'm not giving big details, and I suppose you won't know what I'm talking about unless you see it. I'd say see it, and see what you think. There is good and bad. Being surrounded by Asperger's everyday, the movie made sense to me and I read more into it that probably most people will. I just wish the regular movie goer could too or I really feel people will come out of this movie thinking that Aspie's can't have a normal relationship ever and that you shouldn't marry and Aspie.

One part in the move upset me a lot. It was when the dad of the girlfriend was telling her why she shouldn't be with this Aspie guy. He was telling her the guy could never be anything more than that of a child and he could never give her what she needed or be equal, etc. This made me angry in 2 ways. It made me upset to think how other parents might direct their daughters not to date my son later in life, and it made me upset to think my husband might think he's not good enough. I love my husband and never once thought I was married to him to "take care of him" or that he is a child.

I guess one good thing I get from the movie is to know we are doing the right thing to not let our Aspie son lead a sheltered life. We push him out there and get him experiencing all parts of life regardless of his Asperger's. I think I would like to see a movie more about someone with Asperger's who had a little more experience in life, or rather the "continuation" of this movie to see really what this character could do now that he had learned a bit more.

Anyone that's seen this movie, please let me know what you think!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Problems of Labeling, Segregating, and Isolation

I've recently been in a lot of social situations with families or groups where there has been a kid with autism. Well, first off, I'm always surprised at how quickly everyone has been throwing out the "autism card" as I sometimes call it. It's like we just can't go to a social event and enjoy each others company without a parent or friend or neighbor coming right out and informing everyone there that this child has autism and so he/she must be excused for anything that may possibly happen that may be taken negatively.

And on another part, I have seen so often lately this kind of segregating or separating the "poor little autistic kid" away from the other kids as if he/she needs their own personal class, time, play area, etc.

Now most of all this is really non of my business, but it seems to me in the long run that these kids are being separated, segregated, and even isolated because of an autistic label.

I bet half of the people in any of these social situations wouldn't have thought twice about this kid having anything wrong with them unless the adults weren't out there shouting to the world about their kids' autism.

And it seems lately as if they are even giving the kid a reason to act up because the adults are right there announcing that they can't help themselves to behave.

Plus, why do they have to be separated from the other children? What is up with all this?

True, with MJ, I go right into any new school experience or teaching environment and set up an appointment to discuss his Asperger's. But I'm not doing it to excuse his actions or to get him separated from the rest of his class. I do it so the teacher can have a better understanding of certain reactions or habits, and so that they can be aware of any problems or misunderstandings that may happen. I mean, they are going to be directly working with him day in and day out, and it is important to go over certain things.

But, to everyone and anyone? I don't understand these people who go out there announcing to the world that "My child has autism!!!!" Not that we are in any way ashamed of the autistic label or Asperger's or anything, but I don't think it's fair to the kid to go out and shout his/her label to every man on earth.

Yes, if it is pertinent to a situation or environment then it is fine, but I don't think I need to go to MJ's school and tell each and every one of his peers and their parents that he has Asperger's and sorry for any misfortune that they may come across. It just seems too much.

MJ isn't dumb, and I know he doesn't want to be thought of as "the Aspie boy". My husband, although accepting of his Asperger's now, he isn't ashamed by it, but he doesn't broadcast it to everyone. He doesn't want to be treated differently and he doesn't want to be treated with "kid gloves" that sometimes happens to all these kids.

I've seen kids out there that may have Asperger's or parts of Autism that their family, friends, and neighbors seem to put on baby gloves and talk to them like babies, and expect only the absolute least of them and basically just let them get away with anything and excuse it to their label. I know some things can't be controlled, but I'm sure some of these kids take advantage of their extra leverage in freedom. And because of this label I've seen community classes and other groups allow these kids to have their own class or craft time or whatever because they need to be isolated to best help the child.

How does that help the child? All MJ wants is to be accepted and fit in a group of friends. Why would any kid really want to be separated and kept alone? I suppose I'm an advocate of the whole mainstreaming program in schools to allow kids to be with kids instead of themselves. Sure, it's good to be with other kids with disabilities, but they should be able to be with regular kids too, just the same way regular kids should see that everyone has their differences and be with kids with disabilities. There is a lot to be gained and shared by everyone.

OK, so I'm sorry if I've touched any nerves here. Everyone has their own points of views and this is just what it seems to me. Not everyone is parading their child out there with a sign around their neck saying "I have Autism", and I'm definitely not saying there is anything wrong with being autistic or an Aspie. I think there are so many wonderful qualities that come with my husband and sons for having those traits of autism and Asperger's. I just wonder sometimes if people are jumping on the bandwagon too soon to make their child stand out in a bad way.

I hope MJ grows and develops and becomes a successful adult. I hope that he makes it in life and figures out what works for him as far as his Asperger's. I know him knowing he has it and others knowing he has it can be helpful in many good ways as long as it is directed in a positive nature. I don't see having Asperger's as a disability. I see it more as having a different view on life and thinking. It isn't something to use as an excuse, but rather something to use as a better understanding of a person and to more easily accept them. I just hope MJ gets treated fairly in life and not with pity.