After all the movies about autism I’ve seen, I’m sort of amazed that this is my first movie review. Still, I will try to keep up with this going forward, and I’ll even go back and critique some of the films I’ve seen in the past. Now on to the review!

My wife and I have wanted to see this movie since we first saw the trailer a few months back. On May 12th we finally had our chance. the Autism Society of America helped create the “100 Cities: 1 night for Autism” event which brought the movie to 100 locations across the nation.

The story is about 2 adult advocates with autism, Larry and Tracy. They both rely on facilitated communication and are mostly nonverbal. Both were institutionalized because they couldn’t communicate, although neither are in an institution now. Larry is an artist and Tracy is an advocate. They began their journey in their native Vermont. Travelling with them are their facilitative communication aides Pascal and Harvey, who will often stabilize an elbow or a shoulder while one of them types.

They start their journey in Sri Lanka, where they meet Chammi. Chammi is another autistic adult who is mostly nonverbal, so they powwow with help from their support staff and Chammi’s mother. Chammi’s mother runs a school for kids on the spectrum, but there doesn’t appear to be a great deal of acceptance or support for autism. They visit a buddhist temple, which has some deeply spiritual and hilarious moments.

From Sri Lanka they go to Japan where they meet Naogi, who is home schooled and lives with his mother. Naogi is also an artist and his work is incredible. I found it surprising that Japan would not allow someone with autism to attend public school since I have always viewed the Japanese culture as forward thinking in many ways. However, they are also a very conservative culture, so it makes sense that they wouldn’t want to change or accommodate the school experience for the neurodiverse. The boys visit another buddhist temple. They wrap up the trip by being at a panel at a national autism conference at Tokyo University.

The last stop is Finland, where they meet with two advocates named Antti and Henna. Antti and Henna both work at “autism centers” where they do menial tasks for hours every day. Again, as progressive as the Scandanavian countries are they still don’t understand that language does not equal ability. They have a “type” instead of a “talk” which I found to be both humorous and appropriate. Also, this is where the name of the film comes from. I’m not going to spoil the moment, but its named after a beautiful piece of poetic thought from Antti.

I’m a tough film critic generally, but I’m going to give this one 5 stars. For a documentary it clearly has a strong narrative, but manages to deliver much of that narrative without words. It shows the difference in a neurodiverse lifestyle without demeaning it. Although it does have a full share of despair and frustration, it also has humor and hope. What I really found compelling was the way Wurzburg and company managed to show the character of these autistic folks without the benefit of their verbalization. Well done. I highly recommend this film to anyone, not just folks involved in the world of autism. You can find the showtimes on the Wretches and Jabberers website along with a host of other information about the film.

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