My pal Jody Becker’s documentary, Autistic-Like: Graham’s Story, airs on NYC’s PBS station WLIW at 3pm this Saturday, and around the country on PBS stations throughout April and May. Set your TiVo. The film tells the story of how one dad found the right help for his son, whom doctors called “autistic-like.” Many parents are encouraged to take an autism diagnosis when it is not accurate, just to get some help, even if it is not the right help. (Not so coincidentally, this makes a lot of stats on the rise in autism questionable.) Carol Kranowitz, author of The Out-of-Sync Child: Recognizing and Coping with Sensory Processing Disorder, says, “This film is a gem. A brilliant reminder that by watching closely and looking for what works, parents can find the right help for their child.”
It’s horrid the hoops parents have to jump through to get help for their kids. Maxie’s got some mild sensory processing, social and speech issues, and some less-mild motor issues, and it took a while for us to get help from the Department of Education because she compensates so well. She’s smart and funny, she’s not disruptive, and she doesn’t fit neatly into the existing little boxes the DoE has. Thank goodness her challenges are manageable, and thank goodness her school is full-on awesome. She’s in a collaborative team teaching (CTT) class (half special ed, half general ed, with two teachers) and I’m thrilled with the education she’s getting. We are lucky. But the experience has given me so much sympathy, not just for families with kids with profound difficulties (I already had that) but for families with kids who don’t fit perfectly into diagnostic or treatment categories. Anyway, Jody produced and wrote this film, which has won a ton of documentary awards — you can see a trailer on the web site. The PBS version of the film includes an 8-minute update on how Graham is doing now; there’s also a link to that update on the site. Check it out.