What I’m reading about autism this week

I read quite a lot of news stories, watch videos, comment on blogs – all about autism – quite a lot. I realised it might be useful to record, and share, what these are!

Here’s the first in the series of my “What I’m reading about autism this week”.

Technically this isn’t a read at all (way to go Devina); it’s a YouTube video. A TED talk by geneticist Wendy Chung about the possible causes of autism, which uses hard-core science to try and find out what’s going on, and emphatically debunks the “vaccines cause autism” myth. Here’s a look:

The next story is one on BBC News, titled “Admiring Autism: Busting ‘autism myths’ with a camera“. It’s about a photographer, based in the UK, who has documented her experiences with her son and other families who deal with autism on a regular basis through the medium of photos. Sarah Dunn and her photographic journey can be followed on Facebook and Twitter.

Then it was off to the NY Times for an opinion piece called “Autism and the Agitator“. It’s essentially about Jenny McCarthy‘s sudden declaration that she’s been misunderstood and that she’s actually “pro-vaccine”. What do you think about this brouhaha, I’d be interested to know.

Potentially the most famous autistic in the world, Dr Temple Grandin participated in an online chat Q&A over at Talk About Autism. It happened on April 22, but you can still read the transcript over at the link.

And one of my favourite bloggers, Lisa Maree Domican has a guest post on her blog, titled “Guest post from Ethan, Eli and Jodi: Autism’s other half” and it features short write-ups from two young boys with autism, who have written from their perspective what they think about it! Loved the idea and the photos added to the post.

A feel-good story here about a Minecraft server called Autcraft – it’s for children with autism and their families.

Then I was following an interesting timeline by Stuart Duncan (also in the previous story), or as he is known on Twitter @autismfather. Here’s a look at some tweets a few days ago (there are more on his timeline, please have a look):

That’s all I’ve got this week… until the next time! 🙂

Documentary about children with autism in the UAE in progress

A press release landed in my inbox about a documentary about children with autism in the UAE. I already watched “The Brain That Sings” by Amal Al-Agroobi at the Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) so another movie on the same topic was great news. Yes, there’s a lot of awareness nowadays in terms of campaigns, fundraisers, and so much more, but movies I think contribute a lot to the public understanding of autism.

At present, ‘autism’ is this thing that the public, I think, is aware of, but doesn’t really understand. Movies are a great visual way of connecting with them to say, THIS is what it is, and this is how it looks.

The new documentary is being directed by Tricia Regan which is part of The Autism Project, an initiative started by Her Highness Sheikha Shamsa bint Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, to raise awareness about autism.

The film features 10 children between the ages of 4 and 17, and are on different levels of the spectrum, as well as being from different backgrounds and nationalities.

Looking forward to seeing it!


Full press release: 


Project aims to raise awareness about Autism and inspire hope in families

Tricia Regan with the children

Tricia Regan with the children

Abu Dhabi, 2 April, 2014: Image Nation announced production of “As One”, a new feature-length documentary about Autism directed by Emmy Award-winning director Tricia Regan.

The film is part of The Autism Project, an initiative started by Her Highness Sheikha Shamsa bint Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, to raise awareness of Autism in the United Arab Emirates. Autism currently affects almost 1 in 50 children globally with more young people being diagnosed each year.

The documentary focuses on the children, parents and teachers involved in a unique theatrical and musical program in the UAE for children on the Autism spectrum. The culmination of the program was a musical staged for the cast’s friends and family, as well as UAE dignitaries.

Her Highness Sheikha Shamsa bint Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, said of the initiative: “It is my sincere hope that The Autism Project will have a positive impact on the lives of the children and families who are participating in it, and that this documentary will help to inform the wider UAE public about Autism and its nuances.”

“Overall, we want to ensure that our society does not fail to recognize and embrace the amazing skills and abilities of autistic children, and that these children are given the opportunity and confidence to be active members of our community”.

Mohammed Al Mubarak, Chairman of Image Nation said of the documentary: “The Autism Project is something that we are immensely proud of. Autism is such a prevalent condition in the UAE, but there is still a stigma attached to it”.

“We hope this film, and all the hard work from everyone involved, will help bring a sense of hope to families and increase awareness of this issue.”

Tricia Regan, the film’s award-winning director said: “I am very honored to have been invited to create a musical theatre program in the UAE for kids on the Autism spectrum, and to have had the privilege to direct this documentary film.”

“This is a story of magical kids and dedicated parents struggling to understand autism, and build meaningful lives for themselves. It is joyful, funny, and also often heart wrenching – as is most of life. Clearly cultures from all over the world are dealing with autism, and this film not only makes that clear, it also shows us that we are all more alike than we are different.”

The ten children who were chosen to take part in the film are between the ages of 4 and 17 and are at various levels on the Autistic spectrum. Children from different backgrounds and nationalities joined the musical and theatre program, reflecting the diverse and international community in the UAE.

Information about the Autism Project and the upcoming “As One” documentary is available on this website: http://www.asoneautism.ae

Principle photography has been completed and the film is expected to launch before the end of this year.

Contribute your voice to the initiative on Instagram – @AsOneAutism Facebook, As One: The Autism Project and Twitter @AsOneAutism.