Judge David Johnson can't recommend this documentary highly enough.
If you've met one autistic person…you've met one autistic person.
Todd Drezner is a filmmaker and the father of a newly diagnosed autistic son. Compelled to investigate the powder keg of dueling treatments and approaches, he ventures forth with his camera, and returns with a documentary that will change worldviews.
Facts of the Case
Drezner's son is fascinated by lampposts. When the family saunters through the park, he is drawn, always, to the wrought iron lampposts that dot the sidewalk. Drezner looks at this behavior with fascination and incredulity. But not with sympathy or an overwhelming need to "correct" his son's actions.
That is the approach of the "neurodiversity" movement, a shift in autism treatment, and the focus of Living Lampposts. Drezner explores and compares the dueling philosophies of neurodiversity and "recovery," which treats autism as a tragedy and an epidemic that must be cured and the victims returned to normalcy.
My day job finds me in the human service industry, on the front lines of the autism campaign. There are few other issues that have such resonance. And while I am not a father of an autistic child, my proximity to the disorder has given me a heightened awareness to its effects on families, legislators and, of course, the children themselves. In fact, as my wife carried our first child a year ago, I could not help but entertain the unease of wondering what I would do if our firstborn would be autistic. How would we handle this? After all, "epidemic" is the word most strongly associated with autism; fear and dread permeates virtually all discussion.
And here is why Loving Lampposts is such a revelation: it completely changed my thinking on the subject.
Drezner does a great job looking at both treatment models, recovery and neurodiversity, and makes a compelling and deeply emotional case for the latter. Instead of painting autism as this debilitating plague that destroys kids and must be caused by some kind of boogeyman, neurodiversity encourages parents and caregivers to support the child and reexamine the disorder as simply a different way of looking at the world.
Granted, that sounds idealistic, but Drezner populates his film with real-world followers of this new paradigm; regular parents, esteemed researchers, even adults currently dealing with autism. Their insight is valuable and their case is persuasive.
It's not all rainbows and buttercups. While not blatantly combative, Drezner makes little effort to mask his skepticism for the "cure" schemes that have besieged the autism community over the years, from the secretin IVs of the late '90s to the portable hyperbaric chambers and extreme anti-toxicity solutions of today. Thankfully, the vaccine alarmists are pilloried as well, and this is before the news of the Lancet's fraudulence broke through earlier this year.
(To his credit, Drezner's not a jerk about any of this and states repeatedly that the recovery folks are pursuing their agendas out of love for their children, just like the ND subscribers.)
The DVD: a fine-looking 1.78:1 anamorphic transfer, 2.0 stereo and a selection of extended interviews for extras.
What is "normalcy?" Is it the standard dictated by society or is it a rewarding life that can be different from individual to individual? Loving Lampposts posits an answer, and its conclusion had reorganized my thinking on the matter. This documentary is not to be missed.
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