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A Mother's Courage: Talking Back to Autism
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31 of 33 people found the following review helpful
on August 21, 2010
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I saw most of this show on TV and went directly to Amazon to see when the video would be available. This is a definite need-to-see experience. What an experience! This takes you to the center of the storm that is autism. I know nothing and have experienced very little contact with this difficulty. I don't care who you are, if you have made it to this review, if you are loving to see your children learn, you need this film. If you are even remotely thinking of home schooling your child for any reason, you need this film. Watch this therapist work with these children and young adults, it's an inspiration for all of us. It give hope like a beacon to anyone in relationship with children. These parents come from from the brink of despair to an elation that you get to share with them. They have dealt with the "expert medical" community that offered them no hope or direction. Alas, a broken system, world wide. It shouts loud at us about how different each of us learn. (when I see how we subject our children to the government learning system and require them to perform--and I look at the miracle of learning that is taking place with these wonderful people, we all need to take a big step back and reconsider our teaching/learning system) These are just children, a lot like yours and mine. (here we have a 50% drop out rate in our schools that possibly speaks to the fact that we are not teaching in a manner where learning can happen) Maybe there are even more autistic children out there than we are aware of, and we are shoving them through this broken system. Here are these children who have LEARNED just being in proximity to love, consistency and opportunity. This persistence needs to infuse us all. The speed of learning, the body language, the encouragement to try, feeding the excitement of accomplishment. These children are here with us to teach us about how we all learn! We need to listen to them. What a gift. Thank God for "A mother's courage"A Mother's Courage: Talking Back to Autism.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on November 12, 2010
A heartfelt thank you to Margret for taking on the incredibly emotional subject of autism. While there have been many documentaries made on the subject, none have come close to capturing the essence of what is like to raise an autistic child, but also highlight the incredible abilities within all persons with autism. As a mother of an autistic son who communicates by pointing to a letterboard, I can attest to the transformation that takes place when our children are given the right means with which to communicate. For too long we have focused on the outer "stims", and now we know that we must access their brilliant minds as well. This film champions children with autism, and I think gives them hope for their futures. Well done indeed!
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on January 19, 2011
I borrowed this movie through netflix because I have an autistic nephew who speaks few words and becomes frustrated when he tries to communicate with him. This video doesn't pass blame or try to figure out what happened to cause autism but how their minds actually work. It shows that a large majority of even the most severely autistic children can learn to communicate, read, and even write through when given the chance. It shows you how you can actually teach your child in your home using what one lady describes as "rapid prompting method" which isn't a program but a way of teaching and communicating by having them point to letters and or words on a piece of paper or on a board of any kind. It is so encouraging to see that these children can perform at their age level even when they can't always speak. I can't wait to tell my sister-in-law about this movie.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on February 14, 2011
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Watching this video gave me so much more insight to the way people with autism think. It gave me hope to see a child that was diagnosed with severe autism, non verbal, learn to communicate by pointing to letters of the alphabet and spell out words. It also made me aware that children with autism need to be treated as if they understand, even when it appears they don't, because they do understand. It was an awsome awakening for me and gives me hope just when I was about to give up.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon October 29, 2011
Every several weeks, I search for "autism" books sorted by publication date on Amazon to see if there are any books on the horizon in which I might be interested in adding to my reading list. Perchance, I came across "The Golden Hat: Talking Back to Autism", by Kate Winslet and Margret Ericsdottir, a book with an April 2012 release date. The brief description that is currently being provided for this book mentions that these two authors had paired up in the past to produce a documentary about the journey that Margret had taken with her non-verbal, autistic son, Keli, to find a way to connect with him, and this is that film.

The two core elements of this film that resonated with me are the varied treatments, as well as the many cases of autism, that are depicted. As the father of a son diagnosed with autism, although I have met quite a few children with autism through the networks that our family has taken part, because the autism spectrum is so vast it is always helpful to see other cases and the approaches that other caregivers have taken for their children. We have our own journey, and getting glimpses of the journeys of others, whether it be through the media or through personal experience, is always helpful despite the considerable research that our family performs on behalf of our son.

Although this is a documentary, in my opinion the care the producers took to make this film is akin to another recent HBO film, "Temple Grandin". Along with other professionals, the famous autistic woman Dr. Temple Grandin makes several appearances throughout this film, and provides additional insight reminiscent to what she provided in the extras to "The Horse Boy" (see my review). While I might not agree with everything that is stated, this is the first mainstream film that I have seen since reading "The Myth of Autism: How a Misunderstood Epidemic is Destroying Our Children" (see my review), by Dr. Michael Goldberg, which communicates frustration regarding the lack of relative research that is currently being performed for autism, possibly because adult researchers tend to pursue adult problems that they personally might need to face.

As much as I recommend this film to anyone who has autism in their life, this film unfortunately does not discuss biomedical approaches to treatment, but instead focuses on behavior. While this makes sense to the extent that Margret sought communication with Keli, at times this film gives the impression that some of the misconceptions prevalent throughout the history of autism might be with us a bit longer (see my review of "A History of Autism: Conversations with the Pioneers", by Adam Feinstein). And I must admit, watching Keli still stimming at the age of 9, even during treatment, was painful, given that diet change tends to eliminate such behavior.

Another area that I would have liked this film to address is the fact that Margret and Keli are both from Iceland, the population of which is well known to be fertile ground for genetic research due to the relatively homogeneous population. While genetics is discussed to some extent in this film, and science has shown that genetic epidemics do not exist, the role that genetics plays alongside the environment would have been an ideal topic in this case. The music that pervades from local artists such as Sigur Rós and Björk, however, was well chosen for a journey that was planned for "Italy", ended up in "Holland", and rerouted to the United States (see my review for "Getting Your Kid on a Gluten-Free Casein-Free Diet" by Susan Lord).
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13 of 18 people found the following review helpful
I was shocked at all the positive reviews of this film, and then read one negative review only to find that that reviewer was mercilessly attacked by a number of people. I realize my review will probably invite such attacks as well, but I am compelled to say this: this is a weird film. It starts out like a documentary and ends like a promotion. Go ahead and get angry at me if you must, but please try to be objective and realize I am not belittling individuals with autism or their parents when I say something negative about this film. I'm a mother of two children on the autism spectrum and I'm also a researcher trying to figure out what interventions work, in what ways, and for what subgroups of children with autism. I know there's not one intervention that works for every individual with autism and parents must try out many different things before deciding on the best course of treatment for their particular child. So, with all that in mind, here's my review of this film: I enjoyed the first half of this documentary very much. The interviews with experts and the families affected by autism were informative, interesting, and touching. And then, they started showing Soma Mukhopadhyay and her controversial Rapid Prompting Method (RPM). The film devotes WAY TOO MUCH TIME to this method; and there's no attempt to be skeptical or unbiased in their portrayal of the method. As far as I know, there is absolutely no scientific evidence that RPM does anything (I'm not saying it did not work for your particular child; I'm just saying it has not proven to be effective in the world of science). I understand proving a method's effectiveness takes much time, but it's been years since researchers have started looking into PRM and there's still nothing. I am guessing that it probably works for a very few individuals, especially those who are non-verbal who tried other methods without much success. However, I don't think this should be a method of choice for most individuals with autism. Note that none of the experts interviewed in this documentary recommended RPM. In fact, Temple Grandin always says she received an intensive ABA-type of intervention from her nanny and mother growing up, Gerry Dawson and Sally Rogers are researchers who designed Early Start Denver Model (which is ABA-based); I'm certain these experts interviewed in this film would never recommend RPM over other evidence-based methods. I thought Soma Mukhopadhyay was very patient and the parents were admirable in their love and willingness to go to great lengths to see their child get what he needs to make progress. However, it was so disturbing and painful for me to watch because what I saw was false hope; I'm sure Keli's parents would give anything to tease out the cognitively/socially/linguistically intact child mysteriously locked away inside Keli's autistic mind. As a parent of children with autism myself, I know what that feels like. That's why this film made me angry. Parents of children with autism are bombarded by hundreds of ineffective and costly treatments all the time. If Soma Mukhopadhyay is really doing this in order to help families, she should first find out if and how what she is doing is effective before charging families money and taking the children away from evidence-based treatments that could actually do something for them. Until then, I advise parents to stick to options with some scientific evidence of effectiveness even if progress is not as dramatic as you would like (e.g., Applied Behavior Analysis, Pivotal Response Treatment, Early Start Denver Model, TEACCH, Floortime, Hanen's More than Words). I have absolutely no intention of criticizing other parents who use RPM, who I'm sure have to deal with all kinds of misconceptions and hurtful remarks from ignorant people all the time. If you've watched this film and read this review, I have no doubt you are a person who cares very much about your child's future and knows him/her more than anyone. If RPM works for your child and/or Soma Mukhopadhyay is your friend, I'm happy for you. All I'm saying is that this film is flawed in its single-minded promotion of RPM and not representing other more evidence-based methods. I understand this documentary is about Keli and his family and they had reasons for picking RPM after their long and careful exploration in the U.S. But then they should've just stuck to Keli's story the whole time instead of interviewing all kinds of experts and other families, which gives the impression that this film is about autism in general. Keli has a very severe form of autism complicated by seizures and sensory issues. He is nonverbal, had limited access to interventions due to living in Iceland, and perhaps his parents thought he was too old to benefit very much from early intervention methods at this point. Perhaps in his case, RPM is the only option left to try. I don't know and the film makers certainly did not explain why they chose RPM. Children with ASD display a huge range of abilities and disabilities and there are a lot of different interventions out there. That's why it's great that this film starts out examining many different cases of autism, possible etiologies, what families go through, and what kids with autism are capable of accomplishing. But the other half of the film just settles on RPM with not much explanation as to why Keli's mother chose that instead of exploring other more mainstream interventions. I am very disappointed because I think this film had potential to make a big difference in the world of autism but did something very weird at the end to ruin it. It has the potential to mislead other parents who are searching for best treatment options for their children.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on August 12, 2013
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This is a great information about autism not only for the families where autism exist but for all people who have no idea what autism really is.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on May 14, 2011
This film depicts a therapy that allows autistic children to communicate. Nothing could me more important than that.

The one critic on this site wants to believe that these kids are mentally retarded and would discourage families from investigating the therapy under the guise of worrying that the therapy might be expensive. In fact, this therapy costs less than most other therapies offered to autistic individuals. Unfortunately, some people out there who "have worked with autistic individuals" believe that the therapy they practice is the only one that works or are skeptical about new/different therapies. They'd rather believe that this is all in parents' minds than believe that they were unsuccessful with students and that something else worked. Please don't let people like this discourage you and surely see the film, investigate the therapy, and make your own judgment.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on July 3, 2014
This film uncritically advocates Soma Mukhopadhyay's Rapid Prompting Method (RPM), which is a modern reboot of Facilitated Communication. Mukhopadhyay is seen repeatedly instructing her young clients to spell words by pointing at plastic letterboards -- letterboards which Mukhopadhyay is holding in the air and unmistakeably moving to shape the student's "choice". This is exactly the kind of method FC practitioners used to create the illusion that their clients were speaking, back in the eighties and nineties. Subsequent research has consistently shown that the words come from the facilitator, not the client, and that FC is useless at best and destructive at worst.

To anyone considering the use of Facilitated Communication or RPM: Your desire to communicate with your nonverbal friends or family members is admirable, but please research the history of this technique before accepting the claims of its proponents. I'd suggest watching the 1993 Frontline (PBS) documentary, "Prisoners of Silence", available on YouTube.

There are ways of helping autistic people manage their sensory experiences, and ways of fostering genuine communication and connection between autistic and non-autistic folks, but Facilitated Communication isn't one of them.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on April 16, 2014
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As a mother of an Austistic son I was very impressed at this movie. For children who are non-vocal this is especially frustrating as a parent. The work done in this movie shows what these children can do is amazing to say the least. These centers such as Halo and their teachers are undeniably dedicated beyond belief to these children and are a model for us all.
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