Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Loving Lampposts

Last night,  I wrote a piece on three documentaries on autism currently circulating, but I wanted to stop and focus here on just one: Loving Lampposts.

Released March 29 on DVD is a new documentary called Loving Lampposts. The director, Todd Drezner, has  recently written three posts at Huffington Post, "Learning to Embrace Autism," "Reconsidering the Nature of Autism," and "Autism: The Most Popular Disability" to create awareness of his documentary. This film is well-crafted and for folks familiar with the autism community, many of the more well-known autistic adults and activist parents are featured in the film, as are Richard Roy Grinker, Paul Offit, and Simon Baron-Cohen. 

Much like Kathleen's and my Autism Blogs Directory, this documentary is all inclusive, with most points of view represented. Parents who think vaccines are to blame, who use all manner of biomedical and alternative treatments, to parents who support a neurodiverse perspective are represented and treated respectfully, as is a father-daughter duo who have been a part of the facilitated communication movement since its inception in America.

I enjoyed watching this documentary and actually viewed it all the way through three separate times in working on the posts relating to it. It held up very well through all three viewings, and I think, based on my children's reactions as they wandered in on me viewing it, that it is an appealing documentary across the board. The children showcased in this piece are charming and engaging (and again, some of them are known to the community at large). 

Watching Kristina Chew with Charlie was a neat experience, and being able to tell the girlies that there was my friend Kristina with her son was lovely experience; the kids like to listen to the blogposts I share with them (and I try to do that, to give them the chance to connect with other autistic kids, to see others like them so that they know they are a part of a wider community). 

This is a documentary that most of us in the community can watch with our families and walk away with a positive feeling.

What isn't here, though, what must be acknowledged, is that the darker sides of autism are not focused on. Severely disabled autistic individuals are not represented here, nor are the struggles of those families, and I think that will strike those families who live in that reality as an oversight that is unforgivable. However, I think that the reality is that more families deal with mild to moderate disabilities than deal with the severe, and that this documentary represents the perspective of the director and his experiences with autism.

In the end, we see the world from our own vantage point. Drezner worked to widen his perspective and ventured out into the autism community; he met and talked with a pretty good swath of that community, although he avoided the harshest landscapes. But it's because he did so that I can recommend this documentary as something you can safely view with your children, and something that you probably should view with your family. It's a great launching point for more serious discussions.

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