While at the Cure Autism Now Resource Fair a few months ago I picked up a DVD for ten dollars entitled Through the Eyes of Autism. This thirteen minute short film is written, directed and edited by Erica Jean who also is the Editor of Normal People Scare Me, which is directed by Taylor Cross and his Mother Keri Bowers.
This short film is nicely done with visual imagery, music, quotes on screen with text and interesting sound effects. This is all done Through the eyes of Autism. This journey is similar to what a child on the Autism Spectrum would deal with on a daily basis. They are just a few of the attributes of autism.
Picture symbols are shown on the wall through the use of a picture schedule, taking the viewer through the six steps the child would encompass through out a typical day. These are the Mayer-Johnson symbols with Boardmaker. They utilize free play, sensory, learning in pictures, peer play, communication, living in your own world and all done.
Through the eyes of Autism starts off with some fuzzy images and quoted text on the screen until the image is totally focused. The first quote is by a parent of a child on the Autism Spectrum mentioning how relieved she was to get a diagnosis so she would know what to do with her child.
The film begins with the Little People Figures and then lined up cars, blocks and the Marbleworks Tower item# 3875 by Discovery Toys. The background music is Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.
When this segment is over we see a hand go to the PECS schedule board and turn over the free play card to All Done and move on to the next sign of sensory. Viewers will get a sense of what sensory overload is like. There is a spinning top toys, bubbles being blown around, a child is mushing a toy car into shaving cream and rice is dumping from a hand landing into a table where there are toys. This is similar to our bean table at home since rice is smaller and hard to pick up off the floor on a daily basis. I must say though that rice and beans together is a nice tactile experience.
The sounds sometimes come before the image, as is the case with a balloon losing air inside a classroom setting. This lands on a bean bag chair that has a book opened up and turned upside down. There is a lullaby playing in the background making one think this is quiet time.
A child is shown playing with the rollercoaster toy and then someone is winding up a magic box. Noises are apparent before the screen goes black and then back again with the words I knew already that would be written on the screen - sensory overload. Songs are skipping a beat and toys are twirling, the game Hungry, Hungry, Hippos is being played loudly. All these are giving the sense of the overload that affects children on the Autism Spectrum.
The text on the screen at the start of this segment mentioned the senses (touch, sound, smell & sight proprioception) with the sentence at the end stating, " This was the beautiful side of autism".
The symbols card is turned over to show all done with learning in pictures being the next segment. The dog picture alternates on the screen with visions of real dogs being walked in the park. Then feelings is explored showing various scenes and then a child with the words, " How do I feel? There is the sad, confused and happy cards. I was not absolutely certain since there were no words corresponding with these cards. One of them was either afraid or scared.
The feeling card was to be matched with the picture symbol teaching how to express yourself. One of the sentences in the quoted text was " Angst is a knot in their stomach" by Howard Buten. Howard Buten is the author of Through the Glass Wall. Other quotes on the screen throughout the short film are by Temple Grandin, author of Thinking in Pictures and the young teen with autism Tito Rajarshi Mukhopadhyay, author of The Mind Tree: A Miraculous Child Breaks the Silence of Autism.
The peer play segment had the image of a park from the perspective of the child alone going on the slide and up a side rail and then swings moving with no one on them. A ball pit with loads of balls had the feel of someone jumping into the balls. This was a very short segment, most likely conveying the lack of peer interaction for children on the Autism Spectrum.
Communication started off with the male teacher talking very softly almost in your face and then had the camera moving away with the voice becoming more clear as he moved away. The guy had a ball in one hand and a puzzle in the other. He was asking over and over again which one do you want to play with.
Next was a female showing a few items in her hands with Mr. Potato Head being introduced first and then the question of which one to take first, either the yellow nose or purple shoes. She said this a few times before giving the instruction of " show me more or all done". This seemed to be a list of instructions given rapidly without much waiting in between for a choice to be made and no instruction on how to utilize said items.
I read somewhere years ago that we should count to fifteen after asking a question or speaking to someone on the Autism Spectrum as this gives them time to think before responding and not to rush the conversation or ask another question before getting a response.
Since I am currently using the show me phrase to my nonverbal son Matthew, I found it fascinating to watch the communication segment to see how the person being talked to might feel having these things in their face with questions posed.
The last segment was living in your own world with people strolling down the street. The viewer was walking along the sidewalk as the lone person doing their own thing. I really did not get a sense of what this was to be showcasing because the people did not really look at the person or acknowledge them, but they did not do that to anyone walking by.
There was then a corner shown with the sensation that a person was rocking back and forth in the corner. There was a plant and photographs on the wall. " Autism is not me" was the text by Donna Williams on the screen at the end of this phase of Through the eyes of Autism. Donna Williams is the author of Nobody Nowhere.
The text is fuzzy at the end as the sun is setting with the vision of all six All Done cards on the wall. Thanks is given to three kids who are visible on the screen - Stella, Jacob and Adam.
I thought the short film was tastefully done and beneficial to those who know nothing about Autism Spectrum Disorders. A good primer for other parents, support groups, babysitters, respite workers, college students, new teachers and therapists.
It will give you an inside look at what is going on around the child on the Autism Spectrum and how they take in all this information, images and auditory effects and how it can get all mixed up and jumbled in the mind, which in turn creates overload and confusion and can then bring on tantrums, etc.
As someone who has not seen the video on the internet by Autism Speaks entitled Autism Everyday, I felt from feedback I read that Through the eyes of Autism is a much better production that is not highlighting the parents, but focusing on the person who actually lives with autism day in and day out. I have no desire to view something from an organization that went on The View and stated nationally that autism is a terrible diagnosis and a community of heartbreak and sorrow - and they call that awareness.
For more information on Through the eyes of Autism visit www.ericajeanfilms.com where you can view a quicktime clip. Payment can be made through paypal. The DVD is $10 with a flat shipping of $5.00 no matter how many DVDs you purchase. Contact Erica at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Additional Symbols from Mayer-Johnson
MakingPECSCards Yahoo Group