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Language: English (dubbed voice – originally in Icelandic)
Narrator: Kate Winslett
Interview subject of note: Temple Grandin
Director: Fridrik Thor Fridriksson
Run time: 103 minutes
DVD distributor: First Run Features
When my step-son was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, the first thing we did was order a bunch of books about it and read them. We also consulted a number of doctors and specialists about the condition, trying to learn more about Asperger’s and about our son. I would say that’s probably what any parent would do in the same situation. what I would not say is that doing this research was an act of “courage”.
And really, this is pretty much what Margret Ericsdottir is doing in A Mother’s Courage: Talking Back To Autism, on DVD October 26th from First Run Features. She’s looking for answers and information about autism, after her son is diagnosed with the condition. (Autism and Asperger’s are not the same thing, but both fall under the umbrella term ”autism spectrum disorders”.) She visits specialists and doctors and autism spokespeople (most notably Temple Grandin, who was herself the subject of a terrific recent film). But really, she’s just gathering information, like any parent would do.
So I’ll just get my complaints out of the way first. “Courage” is a pretty big stretch, and makes for a self-serving movie title. And the soundtrack (some great tunes by Sigur Ros) is invasive. OK. Done complaining. The rest of the documentary was fascinating to me, but I think only because I have a personal connection to autism and autism-related disorders. I found that I learned a lot that I hadn’t discovered through my own research, and I have even begun implementing some of the techniques I saw in the movie.
(For example – I find that my stepson now focuses more on his homework, and finishes much faster, when I associate a noise with a word he’s supposed to study for his French dictation.)
I found the interview with Temple Grandin to be particularly interesting, although most of what she said is widely available information on autism – for example, kids who have a particular sensitivity to texture, or to noise, or to something else – but she’s a terrific and compelling spokesperson for the condition.
All this being said, I don’t think people who aren’t connected in some way with autism will get much out of the film. It shows the struggle families go through trying to connect with their kids, and the difficulties they have in getting an accurate diagnosis and proper treatment. But mostly, it’s the kind of movie where the biggest impact it will have will be to serve as a comfort for families who are equally conflicted, knowing they are not alone. In this regard, the impact of A Mother’s Courage is huge.