Short Film by Autism Advocate Sheds Light on Condition


Courtesy: Alex Plank

Last week, I had the pleasure of meeting a number of different people within the autism community at the Autism Society’s 42nd annual conference in Orlando, Florida. We attended as exhibitors to introduce a new line of autism jewelry that will help benefit autism awareness, with a portion of proceeds going towards various autism-related programs and services.

On the last day of the conference, I briefly met and spoke with Alex Plank, a 24-year-old advocate with Asperger’s Syndrome. Alex is the founder of Wrong Planet, a widely popular Web site for parents and individuals with Asperger’s, autism spectrum disorders and other neurological differences. He is also a filmmaker and in late 2009, released a short documentary piece entitled "autism reality."

I had not seen the film, but our meeting in Orlando prompted me to check it out and after viewing it, I came away impressed.

The 10-minute, interview-based film shows various segments of individuals talking about autism and their perceptions of it. Among those interviewed are Dr. Temple Grandin and Alex’s parents, who talk about his growing up as a child on the autism spectrum and the struggles that accompanied his condition.

Part of Plank’s goal in directing and producing the film was to inject a new perspective into the autism debate and dispel the many misconceptions that are associated with the disorder.

This is an important film in which an autism spectrum disorder can be seen through the eyes of someone who actually has it, as opposed to parents, Hollywood actors, researchers or educators. This first-person perspective on autism is a refreshing way to better understand the mind of an autistic and the struggles they endure on a daily basis.

"autism reality" can be viewed in its entirety below.

19 Responses to Short Film by Autism Advocate Sheds Light on Condition

  1. Chris Arnett says:

    What an amazing young man!

    As the mother of an 8 year old with autism, I would love to embrace the idea that “autism” is neither good or bad. However, I see the pain every day that it causes my son. He wants so very badly to connect with other people and he just does not know how (after 6 years of intensive treatment). He has a high level of anxiety daily and has had GI pain for years (despite a restrictivd diet and RX). Yet, I fear that the worst is yet to come. That he will never be able to live on his own, hold a job, or find someone to love. Thus, I can never view autism as neutral.

  2. Barbara says:

    My thoughts echo the previous poster. If there were a magic pill that would cure autism I would give it to my children.

  3. ‘Autism Key & Jewelry…more than just another blog’ sharing on ‘EnjoyHi5Autism’ social media sites: http://enjoyhi5autism.blogspot.com and Kbj Cosse’ (Facebook)

  4. I really enjoyed the film. Thank you for sharing. I love how he interview people of different perspectives like the expert Temple Grandin, a different kind of expert as in his parents and basically clueless people off the street as well as himself. And it was so well done. I’ll be adding this page to my asd album – http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.394751169833.172006.711934833.

  5. Stacy says:

    I also enjoyed the film I am a mother of an 18year old with Aspergers and have strugled with him all his life to help him keep up (so to speak) in school.. when he was 13 I finally found out he did have Aspergers. Now we are struggling even harder these days..

  6. Star says:

    Im 16 and i hav a brother who is autistic 8 years.. :\ its soo sad when others stare at him with those eyes … i rrly love him ♥ things r rrly hard in our family and all of this :/

    Please pray for autistic children’s ♥ They’r different and awesome in a special way

  7. Debbie says:

    My son is going on 18… hes has not been officially diagnosed with mild aspergers and we dont talk about it… hes always been different and highly intelligent was was picked on allot as a kid… hes getting better with allot of social things… it may be because we dont always focus on it . Hes never been on meds. I love him just the way he is… hes very loving , caring and knows way more then I do about things..lol. The only thing I would change if I could would be peoples perception if what ” un “normal is and a film like this just may help with that so thank you… great film !! :)

  8. Mary Christensen says:

    I have two adult children on the Autism Spectrum at different levels.

  9. Corinna McEwen says:

    Lovely film and very well done! I would like to have seen more insight into more severe forms of the condition, success stories, coping methods, familial dynamics, etc. Thank you, Dr. Granden, for YOUR insight! You continue to be an inspiration to all who are touched by ‘the spectrum’!! And thank you, Alex, for educating and demystifying personalities who are so very often misunderstood.

  10. Bonnie Astorino says:

    I would like to Thank you for sharing this video,it touch my heart.I also can relate to your video because i have twins with Autism as will,and i see how hard it is for them.Again thank you,god bless take care. Bonnie Astorino.

  11. Kathy Miller says:

    I have a 6 year old grandson who was dianoised early on with servere autism and I read, watch, and listen to everything about this disorder. He is very loving and he is in special classes at school. Noverbal is the worst thing for us. But he gets along as well as can be expected for the serverety of autism he has. There is only one thing in his life that we pray for and it is that he one day will talk and not be made fun of. People talk and stare and we just go on. We don’t dwell on the autism we do what we can to help him. He is very smart,He is what I would call brain smart for his age.He knows what he wants and we are learning to read him to figure him out. He is not on medication. He use to talk when he was younger and then one day just stopped talking. I pray for all of these children big or small that one day God will send us all a miracle and heal all of them. God Bless all of you that take your time to share your stories you never know just one comment may help a thousand people dealing with this.

  12. Eileen Rougeaux says:

    I have an 11 year old who has Aspergers. I can relate with all that Alex has to say and also when his mother told about the principal and the students and she knew then that he needed to get out of that school. I, too had experiences like that and I fought tooth and nail to get my son into a school that specializes in autism and he is doing beautifully!!!! I thank god every day for his wonderful teacher, aides, therapists who give their total time and devotion to helping these wonderful children.
    They are all beautiful children and if we all took the time to get to know them and see their potential, we would all be better for it.

  13. C.R.Phillips says:

    As a person who was diagnosed with Aspergers later in life-it has been a difficult time but I would not change anything about myself-I have a decent job thanks to my special interests in radio and electronics and I still get upset at the experiences I will never have that my non autistic peers have had-I have meltdowns and shutdowns-I was picked on in school by other kids-I was called the walking encyclopedia-I was also told by people when I was being diagnosed that “oh I get that way sometimes-I feel that way sometimes-etc etc etc” the difference between non autistic and autistic people is that we feel those ways all the time day in and day out.The one misconception that I hate is that people think we are cognitively disabled in some way and that some people try to take advantage of us because of that misconception-it has happened to me-I will always have this and that is that.

  14. Debra Mitchell says:

    I see things like this film and it gives me hope. I can’t find alot of info in my home state of Louisiana, so seeing this helps me to know my 8 year old will be fine.

  15. Valerie Schillero says:

    Thank you for a wonderful film. I think you should continue to make more of them, you have a marketing talent to do so. Good luck and I will be looking for more of them.

  16. Thank you for sharing this short film Gary. As autism spreads, we need to see more things like this to help spread awareness and keep us open to different perspectives.

  17. Thanks for putting this together. The different perspectives are enlightening.

    My son is 9 and was just diagnosed this year with Asperger’s (he’s also ADHD). I can see where he has so many gifts and if there was more understanding, he would be a happier person. He’s had some rough years in school and his anxiety has increased due to it all. He has his quirks, but I wouldn’t trade his intelligence and opportunity to do great things in his particular interest to make him “normal”. I wonder if he would though.

    More acceptance would go a long way…

  18. Amanda says:

    On one hand, congrats to this young man and his success with his disability. On the other hand, I am a mother of two boys, 4 and 2. One is autistic and one is not but has speech delays. Every video I see about autism always has a child with Asperger’s talking about his life and struggles. I want an encouraging video that is more attuned to what my child is going through. He is non-verbal, has sensory issues, is not potty-trained and refuses to drink out of anything other than a bottle. I love my sons so much and wouldn’t change them for the world. But for god’s sake, can we have a video that addresses the more common autistic child? The one whose mother has never heard an “I love you mommy”? The one who can’t explain to you why a certain two seconds of a cartoon makes him cry every time? The one who loves his rocking chair so much that he sleeps in it every night even with a big comfy bed nearby? Just my opinion, mean no offense. Just having a hard time with the day to day.

  19. Heather says:

    I think what he meant was Autism is not a good thing or a bad thing for him and for some others.A lot of light has been shed on kids with Autism when it comes to the kids that have very obvious outward signs.When the signs are less obvious people don’t really understand and the person with Autism is misunderstood.This happens with my son a lot.People need to understand that its not just one thing, Autism has many different features and it’s not always the way a person “looks”.People say to me your son does’nt look like he has Autism.And my reply is:Can you tell me what Autism looks like?Most can not even begin to answer me.

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