Press Release – Award-Winning Autism Documentary Translated into Spanish Provides Valuable Resource for Underserved Communities

Alexandra Jackman

Alexandra Jackman

Teen provides unique tool for Spanish speaking community to broaden understanding of people with autism. Autism Daily Newscast’s original interview with Alexandra can be found here.

North Brunswick, NJ, September 16, 2015A Teen’s Guide to Understanding and Communicating with People with Autism has been translated into Spanish to fill an unmet need in the fastest growing ethnic/racial population in the United States. Created by Alexandra Jackman of Westfield, NJ, the purpose of this documentary, released in 2013, is to help teenagers be more aware and understanding of people with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). The Arc of New Jersey, the state’s largest organization advocating for and serving citizens with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families, has taken part in supporting the development and distribution of the Spanish translation. The Spanish translation can be viewed below.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated 1 in every 68 children in America is diagnosed with ASD. It has been found Hispanic children with ASD are less likely to be diagnosed, or are diagnosed at a later age – believed to be related to reduced awareness, reduced access to care, and stigma within their communities.

The original documentary has been credited with reducing anxiety for many interacting with people affected by ASD and decreasing potential bullying by promoting positive inclusive social interactions. It is Miss Jackman’s hopes that this translation will do the same for Spanish-speaking communities. Alexandra also believes the documentary will provide a venue for open communication and self-awareness among Spanish youth with ASD and also be used as a training tool for youth-mentoring, community-based programs. The original film was developed as part of an independent study program at Roosevelt Intermediate School in Westfield in 2013.  It has since been used and praised throughout the country and overseas by educators, doctors, families who are impacted by autism, and the general community. This documentary has won nearly a dozen awards at film festivals around the world for both its quality and its message. It has also amassed over 52,000 views on YouTube,

For people with intellectual and developmental disabilities

Inspiration for the Spanish translation of this documentary arose when Alex started speaking with professionals and families impacted by ASD. She learned that audio/visual resources, while limited in English, were almost non-existent in other languages. Hearing of the frustration among people with family members on the autism spectrum who spoke Spanish at home, Alex started researching the needs of the Spanish speaking autism community. Alex explained, “As I realized the significant impact the documentary was having on the English speaking population, I wanted to share it with the Spanish speaking population in the US and abroad, a community that has been historically underserved with autism information and adequate resources. It is my hope it raises awareness and helps people better relate and build relationships among their peers with special needs.”

“To have a high quality, accurate and easy to understand video for Spanish speaking children and adults with autism as well as their families and peers is tremendously valuable,” says Dunia Elvir, an Autism Advocate and the mother of a child with ASD, and an Emmy-nominated producer and journalist at Telemundo. Ms. Elvir provided many hours of hands-on assistance during the translation and taping of the Spanish version. “Alex is an amazing young lady, with a great sensibility towards people with special needs and organic understanding of the importance of practicing acceptance. Alex’s desire to extend the reach of her autism documentary to the Spanish speaking community really spoke to me. Her kind heart and genuine concern is transmitted clearly in her Spanish film.”

The Arc of New Jersey was the first organization to recognize Alex and the documentary by creating “The Youth in Action Award” specifically for these efforts. Since then, Miss Jackman has received additional honors including the Presidential Volunteer Service Award, a Multi Media Award from the NJ Council on Developmental Disabilities, and most recently the Hasbro Community Action Hero Award through GenerationOn/Points of Light. In March of 2014 Alex participated in Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month as The Arc of NJ’s Ambassador. “Alex’s film has had an enormous impact on educating the public about autism, especially young people” stated Thomas Baffuto, Executive Director of The Arc of New Jersey. “We are thrilled that the film will now also be offered in Spanish which will open up even more opportunities for our outreach into the community.”

The creation of the Spanish version of the documentary was generously supported by Deluxe Entertainment Services Group Inc.  With their extensive experience working on some of Hollywood’s biggest movies and television shows, Deluxe oversaw and completed all aspects of the production, recording, talent and mixing of the Spanish version of A Teen’s Guide to Understanding and Communicating with People with Autism.  “Deluxe was thrilled to help such a special project for such an important cause,” said Ron Horwitz, Deluxe’s Senior Vice President of Worldwide Localization Services.  “We were so impressed with Alexandra’s original work that we felt compelled to help bring it to the Spanish community.”