Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Communication: A Basic Desire

     Last week I had the pleasure of viewing the documentary “Wretches and Jabberers” a film by Gerardine Wurzburg. Simply put, this was an hour and half of time well-spent. 

     Wurzburg's inspiring documentary chronicles the world travels of two men, Tracy Thresher and Larry Bissonnette , in their passionate quest to change long-held attitudes about the intelligence and abilities (or lack thereof) of people with autism. Tracy, Larry and their support team of assistants, Harvey Lavoy and Pascal Cheng, visit Sri Lanka, Japan and Finland. During this time, the men give presentations about autism, communication, and intelligence. They also meet with other adults with autism facing the same social isolation and barriers. 

     The film, a beautiful mix of advocacy, personal triumph over pain, travel adventures, and humor, takes you for an emotional ride well-worth the cost of any ticket. Both Tracy and Larry grew up isolated by their autism, unable to communicate with the world around them. When Tracy was 23 and Larry 34, their lives changed dramatically when they learned to communicate by typing. Larry notes, "nothing I did...convinced people I had an inner life until I started typing."

     As an educator with a background in special education, this film tugged at every inch of my emotional being. Tracy and Larry give me a front seat to their pain and their triumph. As a viewer, you jump back and forth from cheering on their cause to dabbing away a tear after listening to Tracy comment on “autism’s death grip on my actions.” 

     I would highly recommend “Wretches and Jabberers” to anyone. You do not have to be a special education teacher, or any teacher for that matter, to benefit from watching this documentary. In the end, we all want to communicate, to have our voices heard, even the jabbering. 

     To learn more about the film, please visit:  http://www.wretchesandjabberers.org/synopsis.php

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