I unfortunately missed the great crowd sourcing campaign for the documentary "Citizen Autistic" (William Davenport, 2014), released this month. However, I was just contacted by Cinema Libre Studio with their press release and a chance for an early online viewing to review. How could I say no?
Now, my review isn't going to be unbiased. I'm an autistic activist who works alongside and has met a good number of the people interviewed in the film. I sort of have a vested interest, even though I'm in Canada and most of the specifics take place in the United States. However, I do believe that there is an international effect to greater disability rights, and to Autistic rights, and so this film is part of that dialogue.
Onward to the film!
At about 60 minutes long, "Citizen Autistic" is rather brief, and of course, not going to cover in complete detail every and all issues in the Autistic rights movement. It does cover some of the current contenders.
It opens appropriately with the National Day of Mourning in Washington, D.C., and goes on to cover the Judge Rotenberg Center, Autism Speaks, and the discourse between parents and autistic adults in advocacy work.
Some points are also brought up are the similarities between the autism rights movement and gay rights movement, as well as bringing our rights into the greater disability rights movement, as well as how the Autistic community could possibly look towards Deaf culture and community as a model of operations. I liked how autistic people interviewed presented different views, various perspectives regarding the rights models, but otherwise pretty much agreeing that this is an issue of human rights.
Points about parents and autistic adults were covered with AASCEND, which was a very interesting piece to watch, and definitely frames the question of how the so-called conflict and division as very much a question of government funding, as well as a matter of being allies without taking over the movement.
Lastly, in some of the final comments, Ari mentions using one tenth of research funding to fund AAC devices, for communication that'll improve quality of life. That's just one tenth from research, diverted to practical applications that affect autistic lives.
So those are the main points that really stood out to me. It's a short film, as I've mentioned before, but I think it does a really good job covering various perspectives in the time frame that it has. Are there more perspectives in our community? Are there more issues that affect us? Of course, and this shouldn't be the one documentary about autism advocacy that gets made; why not make more?
But I watch this, and I nod along, because I see my community, I see my fellows represented, I see our voices represented, and I have hope. I have hope that this is just the start of our representation.
And I'm so going to go order a couple copies of the DVD now.