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.


Autism Movie Review: Adam Tuesday, Aug 14 2012 

“Adam” is about a young man with Aspergers Syndrome coping with loss and trying to make sense of the world without his father. Hugh Dancy plays Adam, a young adult who goes through a number of changes during the movie. Cute film, although its not all sunshine and roses.


Autism Book Review: Born on a Blue Day Thursday, Sep 1 2011 

The autobiography of Daniel Tammet’s full title is “Born on a Blue Day: Inside the Extraordinary Mind of an Autistic Savant.” Its a fascinating look into the way at least one autistic mind works. Tammet is twice exceptional, as he not only has autism but also has savant syndrome. Savant syndrome is a condition characterized by a special skill, ability or gift in a given area. Most people will think immediately of Rain Man and the toothpick counting scene, but it can be much more than that. From what I’ve read savant syndrome only affects 10% of the autism population.


Autism Movie Review: Rain Man Wednesday, Aug 31 2011 


I know what you’re thinking. “I deal with autism all the time. I hate the Rain Man stereotype.” I do too, but I think its worth discussing. I think, given the right approach, Rain Man can be used to raise awareness. The key is to focus on the positive aspects shown. It doesn’t hurt to bring up the change in approach, from an institutional model in the 80s to the current community based ideal.

For those who haven’t seen it, Rain Man is the story of a callous brother Charlie Babbitt, played by Tom Cruise, and his estranged and unknown brother Raymond, played by Dustin Hoffman. Raymond has autism, and Tom Cruise kidnaps him in an attempt to get money from his deceased father’s estate. With no money forthcoming, Charlie decides to use Raymonds savant skill, the ability to visually track and mentally simulate mathematical formulae at lightning speed, to cheat a Vegas casino out of a small fortune.


Autism Book Review: The Horse Boy Thursday, Aug 25 2011 

This is a heartwarming story of a lengthy intervention and spiritual journey for a family with a child on the autism spectrum. I found it to be an interesting and informative read, especially if you have any interest in Mongolian history. I’m a huge Genghis Khan fan, so this book fed into a natural interest of mine.


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