True Life: I Have Autism

This episode of True Life centers on three young men with varying forms of autism. First to be introduced is Jeremy. He is 17 years old and his autism affects his communication with others. He cannot physically speak but he uses an instrument called a “litewriter” to form his sentences and to talk with his peers. Second to be introduced is Jonathon. He is 19 years old and is classified as an autistic savant meaning that although he has autism he possesses a certain talent. In Jonathon’s case he is an artist. Drawing helps to keep him focused and calm.  The third and final introduction is a young man named Elijah. Elijah is sixteen years old and has Asperger’s syndrome. He categorizes Asperger’s as a high functioning form of autism. Elijah is an aspiring comedian and does weekly comedy bits in New York City.

I believe the type of narrative displayed in this episode of True Life is the quest narrative. Quest narrative focuses on illness as more of a journey. According to the lecture video it puts emphasis on the emotional and spiritual over the physical restoration. Autism has no cure. But the stories of the three young men show that just because you have autism does not mean you cannot participate in socialization, hobbies, and every day regular life activities that a “normal” person participates in.

In the episode, each of the young men were taught to own their disease. Although our culture and society finds it easy to pick out people that are different than the “norm” the boys were still able to go to school, have friends, participate in hobbies, throw parties, perform stand-up comedy acts, and display their artwork in galleries. Being different shouldn’t have the negative connotation associated with it. Being different, in our culture, can sometimes be a very good thing.

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  1. Peter Ferszt says:

    The narrative I found was interviewing Temple Gradin, a famous autistic PhD who designed better cattle handling techniques, and her opinions and experience living with autism. Her experience was quite different since she grew up in a time were autism was much less known and understood. She saw a Freudian psychiatrist as a child, and her mother had her working with a nanny for most of the day to help her development. She states that without this forced interaction, she could have easily slipped into her autism. She criticized her psychiatrist, teachers, and most professionals around her for trying to get rid of her fixations (like cattle and livestock), rather than embracing them to help her grow. The boys in this episode of True Life, growing up in a time of increasing awareness and acceptance of autism, seem to have more support and a better understanding of what they suffer from. Much like Jonathon’s fixation with art, Temple fixaded on cattle and livestock. She used this fixation to develop more soothing techniques to work with them that is implemented in many facilities across the UNited States. In terms of what caused the difference between their differences in living with autism are mostly cultural, as medical understanding and acknowledgement of autism is much fourth than it was when Temple was a kid.

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