Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Completed: Unlocking Autism

i had seen a portion of this documentary a few months ago but i finally managed to see the whole thing just now.

TL;dr: It's one of the better documentaries on the subject of the Autism Spectrum and you should check it out if you have a chance.

So... Autism... what is it?

... yeah wish i could tell ya.

The problem with describing autism is that it's such a case by case thing, no two are the same... they may share similar traits but as a whole they couldn't be any more different.

This documentary touches on that and shows some of the things being used to lessen certain symptoms and try to have life be easier. It also mentions possible causes and how there are now more ways for Autistic children to transition into adults.

However... there were some things i wished they focused on more.

See the reason i care so much about Autism and the Autism Spectrum is cause my little brother has it.
and i say 'little' to means younger.... he's over 6 feet tall and strong as a bear but that doesn't change the fact that i was born first.

so in His case autism is:

Non-Verbal - this doesn't mean he doesn't talk... he talks all day and all night but he's not saying anything, he's either repeating things he saw on tv that he liked or entire monologues from films or random songs from musicals. He is extremely Echolalic  which means my entire life has been a game of "stop copying me" but occasionally he will say one word things in order to let you know what he wants.... but that's as far as the communication goes. he doesn't comprehend whats being said most of the time.
Low Functioning - this one is mostly because he can't read and can't write out his thoughts. he also can't be left alone cause he's a big kid who likes to eat and cook but he doesn't understand maybe putting a bag of popcorn in the microwave for 20 minutes is a bad idea (yeah he actually did it... we caught it at about 6 minutes in though) he has no concept of money or empathy
Severely Autistic -  he will probably always live at home, he will never be able to hold a job (we have tried) and he will always need help with day to day life.

however it's not all bad.

He loves to laugh and cause he's still like a young child he had that babylike laugh thats unrestrained despite sounding so silly.
he's really loving and will randomly just hug us and not let go.
he's rarely violent (though when he is violent it's rough cause he's much stronger then us, though we've all been hit or headbutted at least once) and it's easy enough to catch his meltdowns early and try to redirect his attention.
he loves movies and video games and roller coasters and lots of fun things so it's not too hard to take him out but he hates things like lines so... risky.
best of all he's funny, and not laugh at him funny just cute funny.
one time at a wedding the bride began to tear up and he just yelled at the top of his lungs "Don't cry!" which made everyone chuckle cause it was so silent just a second ago.
when we saw wicked he really liked the song popular cause it has a punchline to it.... we were near the back (cause those were the most reasonably priced seats)  and when it came time for the punchline he said it pretty loudly and it at least made us chuckle.

Also despite now being in his 20s he still insists that he go trick or treating as batman every year... and then cause i look like i'm a kid the parents tend to give me candy too.... so thats a nice perk.

yet my entire life i've had people say "wow what a good big sister" or "your so strong" or "it's not fair that you have to give up so much"

1. Of course i'm a good big sister... i would be a good big sis no matter what... autism or not.
2. I'm not strong at all, as a family we have to support each other to continue leading a happy life... i'm just a piece of that family.
3. I haven't had to give up a damn thing... Yes i am pretty much a live in Nanny but i still go out, i still work and i still make art. Yes i have to think before i go out to see if it's possible and fits with his schedule but i can almost always make it work ...

so why the spiel.

The good about the documentary:
Theres a lot of focus on the fact that it's not an epidemic, the number has not increased in the past 30 years... the autism spectrum has gotten much broader to the point where ADHD is considering under the Autism Spectrum umbrella.
it completely disowned that one british study that said it was cause by immunization... it's not, for the record it's not cause by uncaring parents either. Sometimes is is cause by vitamin deficiencies but again not true for every case of autism.
it talks about the fact that it is most likely genetic with a chance of it coming from the environment.
it speaks about early intervention (which wasn't around when my brother was that young) and touches on how families have dealt with it and how they just want to do everything in their power to try and help find a cure.

the not so good:
when it starts talking about the Teenagers with Autism.... they actually focus on Teenagers with hi-functioning autism or Aspergers Syndrom.... these people could communicate and think and ask questions in full sentences... so to have the documentary hammer home "oh you just got to teach them right and wrong they will learn" um... yeah... we try but when you can't talk to them... it becomes infinitely more difficult... so yeah maybe try those things on some non-verbal Autistic people and then talk to me...

this just hits a nerve personally for me cause whenever we enroll my brother in a program to help kids like him he either grows up (most programs cut you off at 21 and the government stops offering social things for them) or gets booted cause he's a little loud - this translates as Not easy to deal with -
Yes his Stims involve making loud whale-like noises or repeating an emotion infront of a mirror to see what it looks like on his face... but considering he's not sickly and he's highly independent your just going to kick him out cause he's 'not easy?'

Autism isn't easy.... but how are we supposed to help them socialize or gain more skills if you give up on them cause they are a little work?

essentially i wish it focused on more adults who have sever Autism and how they have to live.... but that doesn't paint a hopeful picture... so i understand why they didn't.
but if we keep ignoring them then how can we show the world that this is the struggle we have to deal with on a daily basis with no support.

still probably the best Documentary on Autism that i've seen... not perfect but better then others.

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