Thursday, September 30, 2010

Think of It As A Door: The Temple of Autism

Think of It As A Door: Temple Grandin and Autism

"My name is Temple Grandin. I'm not like other people. I think in pictures, and I connect them." Top rated award winning movie about life of women growing up with autism gives insightful, entertaining, stellar performances. A must rent!

Congratulations to Claire Dane for winning a 2011 Golden Globe award.

I rented Temple Grandin by chance at Sid's Vids, a local hometown video DVD rental store in Wilson Creek, BC. A little hand written note below the DVD boxes said it was a must see with a brilliant performance by Claire Danes as pioneering autistic leader Temple Grandin.

IMDB, the Internet Movie Data Base describes the HBO movie as "A biopic of Temple Grandin, an autistic woman who has become one of the top scientists in the humane livestock handling industry." It won 7 Prime Time Emmys and was nominated for another 8 awards.

Please let me assure you. This is a must see rental. You should go directly to the video store and rent it tonight.

Over 2,300 people voted on IMDB and gave the movie a rating of 8.4 out of 10.

The movie is based on the book Emergence by the real Temple Grandin herself.

My dear long time friend Kathy, is a courageous inspiring single Mom raising autistic twins and a teenage son. She is a hero in my books. Despite a debilitating terminal illness she still goes on despite her chronic pain to raise these boys. One with severe autism and another with functioning autism.

Many of my friends also have autistic children and two of my friends Charlie and Leonara have created a ground breaking school out of their home called ANCA or Naturally Autistic that empowers autistic children to grow up and be self sustaining proud members of society. They employ the kids who grow up to empower the younger kids, and Leonora aka Leo does all this and is autistic herself. Her and her husband also raise a totally dependent young adult son who's every single need must be cared for.

Leo, as she likes to be called has written a book, has a radio show, and launched the first ever International Autistic Awards!

From being around so many autistic friends I have often recognized a bit of myself in them. So not sure what to expect from the movie Temple Grandin I sat down with an open mind.

While its not a tearjerker type movie, that is exactly what happened with me. I sobbed through the entire show as scene after scene triggered a deep recognition of my own seemingly autistic ways which I have never been able to understand or put my finger on most of my life.

Some of the behaviors I noticed in Grandin that triggered a kinship was she is highly creative, sensitive, intuitive, love for animals, pets and nature were just a start. Putting everything into pictures, a visual thinker, the pain of noise, sensitivity to touch, dislike for abrupt change, avoidance of new things, overwhelmed by large gatherings of small talk. It just kept going on.

These and a lot more hit home with me. A scene where a four year old Grandin just stares at the wall paper putting the intricate patterns in order flashed me back into my own childhood memory.

Her difficulty with how schools teach kids language and algebra also triggered a home run, both fails in my grades. Yet I could see the Universe as One. Mind you, I also had undiagnosed severe sleep apnea, which is why a school reward system based on memory failed me, even though I had a commanding insight into the grand scheme of what I was being taught and what it meant in the larger picture. Come test time, I couldn't remember the finer details of dates, names, and labels.

In one movie scene Temple's genius at creating a self opening and closing farm gate reminded me of the time as a kid I rigged the front door of our house to the record player using ropes and pulley's, so that as my parents open the door, it pulled the on switch and started the record playing music. My parents were fighting a lot pre-divorce and I wanted to set the mood with some romantic music and stop them from arguing all the time.

Now I don't know for sure that I am autistic, but I have talked to my autistic friends that say it sounds like high functioning autism or asperger syndrome.

Nonetheless, its not about me, autism is on the rise and more and more prevalent. In the old days, these wonderful people would be locked up and institutionalized for life. They wanted to do this to my friend Kathy's kid. She refused, hell no! Just like Temple's mom did.

As autistic children are integrated more and more into society and the school system, it creates a lot of misunderstanding and bullying.

I think this movie is worth seeing as it is a brilliant entertaining story telling that it ingeniously slips into the mind of an autistic person so you experience it along with them.

Go rent Temple Grandin, autism gave her vision, and she gave it a voice. You will be so inspired!!!

And please show compassion, tolerance, love and support for autism and autistic people in your community today.

Thanks for reading my blog, I welcome all comments and feedback.

All the best, Duane Burnett

UPDATE January 16, 2011.
Congrats Claire Dane on your Golden Globe!


Phillip Wu
Duane, I enjoyed reading your review of this movie, and it sounds like it was a cathartic experience for you when you were watching it. Thanks for sharing your own personal was very enlightening to read.

Delanne Reid Young
great review Duane. I watched Temple Grandin twice a few wks ago & loved it. Claire Danes's portrayal of Ms Grandin: amazing. She deserved to win the Emmy Award for this film. Parents & guardians of children on the Autism Spectrum are heroes for their continuous strength, courage, dedication & strong will never to give up.

Delanne Reid Young
Loved the line "think of it as a door" she uses throughout -- we can all use that analogy in life!

Libby Herman
Very moving article, Duane. Haven't seen the movie, but have had Temple Grandin on one of the talk radio shows I produced. Her ability to explain her "condition" is amazing. Sounds like the film conveys that.

Duane Burnett
Libby the movie is good story telling, I was expecting something clinical but it was a heartwarming look at her life that was entertaining and insightful with out being all preachy or documentary like.

Libby Herman
I'll check it out on your recommendation! I'm sure I'll see a bit of myself as well. Thanks for sharing.

Leonard Howell
I teach guitar lessons to an Autistic Lady in her 40's and she is one of my best students!

Delanne Reid Young
Read this great review by Duane Burnett of Temple Grandin the movie. Claire Danes's portrayal of TG: amazing. She deserved to win the Emmy Award for this film -- 7 Emmys for this TV movie now on video. Parents & guardians of children on the Autism Spectrum are heroes for their continuous strength, courage, dedication &... strong will never to give up.

Jolene Campbel
l Haven't yet seen this... I pvred it but only the 1st 15 min recorded. I have had the honor of seeing Temple Grandin speak and I have read her books and she is one amazing woman! What an amazing advocate for women, children and adults with special needs, Autism, and for the humane treatment of animals!

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