Since the 1970s, The Autism Society has been celebrating National Autism Awareness month. It takes place every April. The purpose of this month is to bring awareness to the general public about what autism is, and what it is not. It is the perfect opportunity to educate people about autism. Perhaps there is an event going on in your neighborhood that is a part of Autism Awareness month.
If you check out the Autism Society website you can find several suggestions about what you can do to celebrate Autism Awareness Month. This year, there is a movie that they feel you should watch. It’s called “Wretches & Jabberers” and is a film by Gerardine Wurzburg.
The film focuses on two men who have autism, who have decided to go on a global quest to change people’s perception and attitudes about disability and intelligence. Tracy Thresher, who is 42, and Larry Bissonnette, who is 52, were excluded from normal schooling when they were children, because they were presumed to be, as the film description puts it, “retarded”. Given the ages of these two men, it is entirely possible that the school system used that exact word, which is really unfortunate.
Both men have difficulty with speech, and have learned to communicate with other people through the use of typing. The movie shows their travels around the world, as they expand awareness of autism. The film is going to be released nationwide in a series of “movievents”, which will involve a screening of the film along with a live panel discussion featuring the two men who are in the film. The website for the film has a listing of when and where these “movievents” will take place, and it also has a trailer that you can watch.
Speaking of movies, some theaters are doing Sensory Friendly Films. Theaters doing this have the lights dimmed, but not all the way out, and turn down the volume of the sound. People are allowed to move around, and even walk down the aisles if they want to. No one has to be silent at these showings, (but they can choose to be if they would like to).
Sensory Friendly Films are designed for people who have sensory integration disorders to enjoy. Often, people who have autism have some sensory difficulties. This month, bring someone in your family who has autism to a theater that he or she will be more comfortable attending. Look for an AMC theater, because AMC has teamed up with The Autism Society. If the theaters by you don’t have Sensory Friendly Films, this month is a good time to start asking the theaters to start having them.
These are just a few of the suggestions that The Autism Society has for how to celebrate Autism Awareness Month. Feel free to get together with the people in your community and come up with your own way of celebrating.
Image by BLW Photography on Flickr