Loving Lampposts Looks at Autism
Everyone seems to have an opinion about autism, but nobody seems to know anything about it. Is it epidemic? Do childhood vaccines cause autism? How about mercury? Is it genetic? Does there seem to be more cases because an autism spectrum is now recognized that includes more types than the original autism diagnosis? Is it a disease? A disorder? Is it psychological? Physical? Is there an environmental cause? There are plenty of theories to go around.
Loving Lampposts is a documentary that explores autism, society’s attitudes, and the challenges of living with autism. Viewers meet experts, parents, and autistic children and adults who share their perspective and experiences. One of the statistics it points out is that one out of every one hundred children is affected by autism, as opposed to thirty years ago when one in 2500 was diagnosed. But thirty years ago, entering a classroom of autistic children meant seeing children who could not communicate, wore helmets, and banged their heads on the wall.
Filmmaker Todd Drezner had a personal interest when he decided to make a movie about autism: his son, Sam, had been diagnosed with the condition. In exploring the various factions involved, such as those who believe that alternative treatments can “cure” autism and those who believe that it is not so much a disorder as a different way of being, Drezner found that there seemed to be two main camps, those who believe that it is a “devastating disease to be cured” and “those who feel that autism is just a variation of the human brain,” or the recovery and neurodiversity movements.
Loving Lampposts is an insightful look into the lives of autistic children, adults, and their parents. Drezner has chosen acceptance as the path to follow with his son, which is not the same as resignation but is, in fact, the basis of successful relationships. His hopes in making the film are that “…parents and the broader public see the consequences of the relentlessly negative mainstream view of autism and help them understand that acceptance offers a better path.”
Loving Lampposts will be released on DVD March 29, 2011, by Cinema Libre Studio, in time for UN World Autism Day (April 2; April is Autism Awareness Month). It is a valuable resource for understanding both autism and the autistic. Does it answer all the questions? No, all the questions don’t have answers, but it does clarify quite a few.