Friday, March 12, 2010

Temple Grandin changed my life

I've read about Temple.

I've even read a few things written by Temple.

But somehow, watching the movie.............the visual representation of what Temple, or a person like Temple (autistic) lives through...........


I thought I had this thing knocked.

Not a chance.

HBO, I commend you. Thank you for airing a major television event on the topic of autism.
Mick Jackson (director), I commend you. Your vision, Temple's vision...the way you brought it to life, the way you brought it home -- without words.
Claire Daines, I cannot wait to watch you win your emmy, although it will not even begin to give you the accolades you deserve. For you this may have been "just a role," or perhaps even "just a paycheck," but........what you showed us.........was nothing short of a miracle.

I cannot stop thinking about this movie. There's a scene where Temple first walks into her new bedroom and the camera zooms in on the ceiling fan, then back to Temple where the visual stimulation of the blades going round and round is obviously sending her into a state of panic. But then the volume goes up.......every swish of the blades going around and around and around is like a jackhammer in her head. It's everything, EVERYTHING, EVERY.THING she can do to keep it together. It's like you can see the internal struggle she's having with herself, "it's just a fan, it's going to be ok, calm down, down freak out, it's just a fan." (Kudos again to Ms. Daines for communicating all of that with body language and eyes.......... like most autistic folks can ONLY do)

It's ............ a ceiling fan.

Do YOU even NOTICE a ceiling fan when you walk into the room? I know I don't. It's just there.... but for people living with autism........... it can be like a jackhammer.

Think about being in a room with a jackhammer. For 5 seconds. For 5 hours. Or better yet ALL NIGHT.

How would YOU feel?

Wait, how would you feel if you couldn't communicate to anyone how much it was upsetting you?

Yeah, I'd throw a bloody temper tantrum too.

Just think for a moment about a ceiling fan even BOTHERING you. That in itself is a stretch. But now think about NOT HAVING THE ABILITY TO SAY, "Hey, can you turn that jackhammer off? It's driving me crazy."

There's another scene, and I'll hack the heck out of trying to paraphrase it, where Temple is talking to her mother (played brilliantly by Julia Ormond) and she's saying, "You know how people communicate with their eyes? I'll never understand that." Here's what I want Claire Daines to know........... as an actor, you communicated SO MUCH of what Temple was feeling with YOUR eyes. Sometimes I think the mark of a TRUE gifted actor is not in what they say or how they deliver their lines, but it what they don't say. In what they silently express. Claire, you nailed it. I was uncomfortable the entire time I watched that movie. I was tense, I was scared, I was uptight........because you made me feel what Temple was feeling.

And I didn't like it.

If you haven't seen the Temple movie, SEE IT. Because guess what folks? 1 in 91 kids are being diagnosed with autism. Time to start accepting autism as "the new norm." Or at least a BIG part of "the new norm." Watching this movie will HELP YOU understand what autism is.

My son Luke is 6 years old. He was diagnosed at age 2. I've lived with the ups and downs for 4 years. I've been working with groups like Autism Speaks non stop for over 2 years. I've read countless books about autism... COUNTLESS. I've spent HOURS doing research online. I've talked to hundreds of parents who tell me about their kiddos and yet...........

I had no idea.

Because even though Luke is verbal, he still can't tell me what it's like. And I have no doubt that what Temple experiences and what other autistic people experience are different. But just getting a GLIMPSE into the world, into the mind of autism opened my eyes even more.

But this, as a mother..........was by far, what caused the waterworks to start: Temple's mother was dropping her off at a boarding school and suddenly had second thoughts about leaving Temple there.

Prof. Carlock: I know it's difficult when as parents we want our children to be everything we hope for them to be, and if they're not, we think it's our fault, and that there's never ever anybody out there who understands what we're going through. And it makes you feel alone, right? Mrs. Grandin, I'm not an admissions person. I just teach science. But I feel that this school might be the right place for your daughter. I'd love to have her here.

Mrs. Grandin: The doctors wanted me to institutionalize her. And I don't know, just dumping her at a boarding school, it just feels like another way to give her up.

Carlock: But it's not. It's just the first step in getting her out into the world. And I know you saw the children making fun of her, and you want to protect her.

Mrs. Grandin: Yes, of course I do.

Carlock: What parent doesn't want to? But at some point, she's going to hit life head on. Trust me, we know how different she is.

Mrs. Grandin: Different, not less.

Carlock: Different. But not less.

'Nuf said.


Robynccgirl said...

Awesome April! I got goose bumps from just reading your post. I do want to see this movie and am going to find it and DVR it! Thanks and stay strong!

Unknown said...

The movie blew me away too. You never tell me "everything" you go thru with Luke, just the good parts that will make me feel good. I appreciate that but you know I am here to listen to the bad stuff too. I see such a wonderful change in my grandson, sometimes you and Jeff may not see it all. It is because you and Jeff do so much and work so hard to teach him. This movie proved to me that Luke will be okay. I remember when I watched him this summer and went home feeling 100% better, knowing he would be fine. That was the greatest gift you could give me, the chance to have one on one time. But you are right, I don't know how he feels about all things around him. When I watched Temples seminar the other night, I was proud to "know" her and I understood a little more. Luke M Schmidt, President of the United States. go get em Lukie!

Myra McEntire said...


Zack Gonzalez said...

Hi April,
I wanted to know if I could discuss your blog on the Autism Speaks expenses with you. If you can please email me at that would be great! Thanks!

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