Berkeley, CA-Renee Skudra, along with famed documentary film maker, Tracey Quezada is making an Aspergers documentary starring her son Nils. Her motivation for making such a documentary came from what she calls a large misunderstanding of the learning difference from many places, including University of California, Berkeley where Nils is a student.
Renee told Berkeleyside,
“There is a tremendous amount of ignorance about autism, even in a highly literate and cosmopolitan environment like the Bay Area,
“Many of his professors have admitted to knowing nothing about Aspergers Syndrome and many people in Berkeley have said ‘Oh, so he’s retarded then?’”
Quite the opposite. While the Aspergers learning difference does come with it’s own set of challenges such as having trouble reading facial expressions and understanding social queues, there are many things people on the spectrum may excel at.
Take vocabulary for example. People with Aspergers often do great with language. Nils himself was able to appropriately use the word “extrapolate” at the age of 2 1/2. When his mother took him to the park she noticed right away how the other kids were speaking in single syllable words while her son was using four-syllable words comfortably. He was diagnosed with Aspergers years later. In school his teachers often commented that he was able to correctly use words many students couldn’t even comprehend.
This dynamite diction and a passion for history followed him to college where he’s impressed his professors so much that some have said, aloud, that he was the only student able to contribute to conversations on history. But while his academics have soared, he still has trouble meeting like minded friends because people don’t have a handle on what Aspergers is.
To help the get message across Renee called Tracy Quezada whose past documentaries focused on illegal immigrants and survivors of childhood sex abuse.
“I look at my cousin [on the spectrum] who is graduating high school and going to go to college and, let’s say in five years from now, what’s going to happen in the workplace? So it was kind of magical to receive a phone call from [Renee],”
An estimated 20,000 is needed to complete filming and the group hopes Autism Speaks’s interest in the project will pay off. For now they are relying on crowd funding sites like Kickstarter. Some footage has been shot already and may be used to get other investors.
To contribute to the project please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
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