Autism film series further explores Summer Reading themes

NAU faculty, staff and students are invited to a series of films and lectures that will further explore key themes in the book used for this year’s Summer Reading Program, Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time.

The book, written from the perspective of an autistic boy attempting to relate his experiences of the world around him to others, offers a premise not unlike a new student acclimating to life at college, saidAnne Scott, coordinator of the Summer Reading Program.

“Incorporating a film series into the program allows students to continue the program’s purpose of creating a common experience for new students,” she said.

“We’ve already begun to explore issues of diversity, education and human differences through the book,” she added. “The films can continue that dialogue across campus. And because they are a mixture of award-winning documentaries and dramas about autism, the films should be attractive to faculty and students alike.”

Films and lectures are listed below, with film descriptions provided by the Internet Movie Database web site:

Sept. 28: Refrigerator Mothers
7 p.m., Liberal Arts (#18), room 135
“It is America of the 1950s and 1960s, when a woman’s most important contribution to society is generally considered to be her ability to raise happy, well-adjusted children. But for the mother whose child is diagnosed with autism, her life’s purpose will soon become a twisted nightmare.”

Oct. 9: Lecture: Inclusion from a Student’s Perspective
Stephen Hinkle
3-4 p.m.
Liberal Arts building, room 135

Oct 12: ‘A’ is for Autism and Outside/Inside
7 p.m., Liberal Arts (#18), room 135

‘A’ is for Autism is “based on sketches or animated sequences by people with autistic syndromes.”

Outside/Inside “gives viewers a sense of what it is like to have his form of autism.”

Oct. 26: Rain Man
7 p.m., Liberal Arts (#18), room 135
“Charley is a hustler. [His brother] Raymond is autistic, but is able to calculate complicated mathematical problems in his head with great speed and accuracy. Their father has left his fortune to Raymond who doesn’t even understand what money is for. Charley…kidnaps Raymond [and]…the two begin a long road trip that will lead them to an understanding of each other.” Starring Dustin Hoffman and Tom Cruise. Winner of four Oscars.

Nov. 6: Autism is a World
11:30 a.m., Cline Library Assembly Hall
“Sue Ruben was diagnosed and treated as mentally retarded until the age of 13 when she began to communicate using a keyboard. The documentary takes the viewer on a journey into her mind, into her world and her obsessions.”

Ruben, who was nominated for an Oscar, will be on the NAU campus for a discussion after the film.

Nov. 16: Silent Fall 
7 p.m., Liberal Arts (#18), room 135
“An autistic boy witnesses his parents’ double murder. Richard Dreyfuss as a controversial therapist seeks to probe the child’s mind in order to solve the case.”

Nov. 30: Three documentaries
7 p.m., Liberal Arts (#18), room 135

My Classic Life as an Artist: A Portrait of Larry Bissonnette
Depicts a “day in the life of outsider, Vermont artist Larry Bissonnette… Looking back on his years of living in a closed institution for people labeled mentally retarded, he assesses this form of ‘apartheid’ as ‘better for growing vegetables rather than people.'”

Inside the Edge: A Journey to Using Speech through Typing
“Written and narrated by Jamie Burke, a 15-year-old high school student with autism. In this video, he tells of his personal experiences with the use of facilitated communication, developing speech, and inclusive schooling.”

Sharisa: My Life as a Pioneer
“Sharisa is about a woman who “spent her childhood with labels of ‘pervasive developmental disorder’ and ‘severe mental retardation’ based on a tested IQ of 24 at age 4 and of 10 at the age of 12. Sharisa was placed in special education classrooms where she was not challenged intellectually. In this video, Sharisa talks about her inner life during this time.”

Dec. 4: Lecture: Autism and Adolescence
Andrew Gardner
3-4 p.m.
Liberal Arts building, room 135
Andrew Gardner, assistant professor of psychology, was a post-doctoral fellow at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and the Kennedy Krieger Institute in the  Department of Behavioral Psychology Neurobehavioral Outpatient Clinic. He has also worked with autistic children.

Dec. 7: Snow Cake
7 p.m., Liberal Arts (#18), room 135
“‘Sometimes stopping is the most important part of the journey…’ A drama focused on the friendship between a high-functioning autistic woman … and a man … who is traumatized after a fatal car accident.” Starring Sigourney Weaver and Alan Rickman.