I thought “Autism: The Musical” was old news. At my brother’s request, I borrowed a copy of this movie through Netflix to coincide with my brother’s visit while he was working on a project to design a sensory center (he’s a student of architecture) that would, should it ever be built, meet the diverse sensory needs of children with autism while also removing averse sensory stimuli from the building’s design. The research he conducted while he was here included long conversations with me, meetings with some of our service providers, and watching this video to get reactions from my mom and me. Time is only a passing acquaintance of mine that leaves few discernible marks in my memory – meaning I don’t know when this viewing occurred. However, it was months and months ago.
“I cannot make people value my daughter,” one mother said, while speaking of her child during an emotional showing of “Autism: The Musical” on Sunday.
That one quote quickly became a talking centerpiece at the event.
Honestly, I don’t remember the entirety of my reaction to this movie. I do know there were some parts I considered seriously controversial. I also know that Autism Speaks posted this description: “As it follows their journey, the audience not only better understands the nature of what autism is, but celebrates the joyful spirit of each child.” Not without irony. I also remember that it provided an excellent platform for my brother to experience the diversity that is autism beyond what my three unique little boys can provide.
If it serves as a vehicle for communicating the value of autistic persons, that’s pretty good news. However, I can’t help but think valuing autistic persons and curing people of autism are conflicting paradigms.