Autism Movie Review: Ocean Heaven Tuesday, Mar 5 2013 


Due to my position with the Autism Society of Northern Virginia I was fortunate enough to be part of a parent panel for this film, which was put on by the Northern Virginia Jewish Community Center for the Reelabilities Film Festival of Greater DC. I would first like to thank those folks for their support in creating disability awareness and, more specifically, autism awareness in the Metro DC area.

The film stars Jet Li as the widowed father of an autistic boy. The opening scenes are confusing, then shocking, then I was totally immersed in the film. The story was overwhelmingly compelling to me, as the thought that my wife might die and leave me alone to care for our son is always somewhere in the back of my mind. I also appreciate the way so many folks in the movie compliment the dad on his dedication to his son, but the film still shows that he is human and makes mistakes.

The film also shows the stark lack of services in China, as once the father is diagnosed with a terminal disease he tries to find multiple locations to place his son. He looks at his old school, but the kids are too young. They look at an institution, but he can’t bring himself to make his son stay there. I find this mirrors what most people experience here in the US, where the community based choices are few and far between.

I’m giving this film 4 out of 5 stars. Its well played, and the actor who plays the autistic son does a great job. The rest of the cast turns in solid performances as well, and the story had me in tears in several places. It manages to touch on many of the aspects of transition as well as the parent/child aspects of autistic life. It is streaming on Netflix if you want to watch. I’d recommend taking the time.

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2012 Commonwealth of Virginia General Assembly: Autism Action Items Tuesday, Jan 10 2012 


Okay, the Commonwealth of 2012 Virginia General Assembly starts today and those of us in the Virginia autism community should roll up our sleeves. This year is a long session and we have a lot to do.I’m focusing my efforts on a few things, and recommend everyone out there do the same.

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The White House Autism Awareness Conference 2011: Part 3 Friday, May 6 2011 


We ended our day with a nice wrap up. We received reports from the other groups which I will summarize at the end of the post. Then we had a few remarks from different folks in various agencies.

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The White House Autism Awareness Conference 2011: Part 2 Thursday, May 5 2011 


During lunch I sat next to some lovely people. One was with the Autism Society of Baltimore / Chesapeake. Another woman came all the way from Minnesota and represented a group of Somali immigrants who have an unusually high incidence rate of autism. We questioned each other over lunch about where we were from, what we were doing and, most of all, what worked for our kids. I was happy to see that we had several self advocates in our room. Not to get too preachy, but the autistic self advocates are often ignored or excluded when it comes to helping their community, so it was nice to see several autistic individuals there to speak their minds.

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The White House Autism Awareness Conference 2011 : Part 1 Wednesday, May 4 2011 


I received an email invitation that read as follows.

“You are cordially invited to join senior White House and administration officials at an event in observance of Autism Awareness Month.

The event will take place on Monday, April 25, 2011, at the White House.”

It was with some trepidation and curiosity that I regarded my invitation to this event. You see, it arrived on April 1st and asked for some pretty detailed information, like social security number, birth date, etc. However, after doing some quick fact checking I remembered Kareem Dale and found it to be legit. At that point I felt honored.

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