The Changing Face of Autism Surprised by Autism

One Family's Early Steps on the Journey Govt. Television Network We Thought You'd Never Ask
. 978-0-80261-104-8. The Changing Face of Autism. color. 50 min. John Chisholm, dist. by Natl. Film Network, 877-888-4395; 2009. DVD ISBN 978-0-8026-1104-8. $26.95; acad. libs. ISBN 978-0-8026-1105-5. $249.95. Public performance. Surprised by Autism: One Family's Early Steps on the Journey. color. 25 min. Joe Cullen, Govt. Television Network, 2009. DVD. Free. We Thought You'd Never Ask: Voices of People with Autism. color. 28 min. Beret Strong & John Tweedy, dist. by Landlocked Films, 303-447-2821; 2009. DVD UPC 8-84501-21981-5. $19 + $4.50 s/h. HEALTH
The Changing Face of Autism introduces us to a number of families, professionals, and teachers who work with or care for children with autism. It incorporates interviews with numerous prominent people in the field, particularly Ivar Lovaas, who is credited with the establishment of the Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) program that has purportedly been effective in helping many autistic children. Unfortunately, aspiring to cover the full autism spectrum, the film touches too briefly on some topics. Also, a number of speakers advocate for more singular approaches, especially with biomedical and dietary interventions, which means viewers must seek additional information on how all these remedies might work together. Despite these minor problems, Changing provides an adequate foundation for understanding autism. One of the film's finest moments is shot at a parents' support group, where the participants talk candidly about the challenges of having a child with autism. This high-quality production is recommended for public libraries with autism or disability collections. [More at]The narrowly focused Surprised by Autism follows the first steps in filmmaker Cullen's treatment of his son, who was diagnosed with autism at a young age. Cullen shows us how the family responded to the diagnosis and what treatments were sought for Josiah, who was around four when the film was produced. While it is well done, the video does not provide the scope to make it universally useful for libraries. Viewers see the treatments that the Cullens undertake (including ABA and dietary interventions with a gluten- and casein-free diet), but we are too close to the start of those interventions to discover concrete evidence of their value. Surprised is recommended only for libraries with comprehensive autism collections. (The full documentary can be viewed at Thought You'd Never Ask provides an excellent view into the lives of a number of adults with autism and related disorders. These adults, most of whom are verbal, share insights into what their condition means, how they participate in society, and what challenges they face. Structured around a series of questions, the film provides a fascinating and unmediated look into the lives of people with autism. The discussions revolve around developing friendships, taking concepts literally in conversations, and self-esteem, among other valuable topics. This outstanding film illuminates the lives and possibilities for adults with autism and, more important, offers encouragement for families with young children with autism as these role models appear to be happy and functioning. Strongly recommended for all public libraries and academic libraries with disability collections.—Corey Seeman, Kresge Business Administration Lib., Univ. of Michigan, Ann Arbor
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