Sunday, July 26, 2009


Yesterday, we had our second "Family Movie Night." Actually, it was the third attempt. The first was successful. We made popcorn and watched, "The Muppets Take Manhattan." Martin watched about three-quarters of the film. Our second effort didn't go so well. I rented "Ratatouille." The opening scene scared the life out of Martin. There were rats yelling at each other. The movement was fast and jerky. The pace and feeling was frantic. Martin freaked. So last night we tried "Mary Poppins." Something about older movies' slow pace, less complicated plots, and lack of ironic humor seems to work for Martin. This made me wonder why movies for kids today are fast paced, complicated, and full of irony. Weird.

I should have known this is how it would be. Before we started "Family Movie Night," Martin had watched only one full-length film in his life. When he was two, we put him to bed one night and started to watch "My Dinner with Andre." For anyone who hasn't seen it, the title is not misleading. It really is an entire movie that consists of two guys eating dinner together. One of the guys really is named Andre. A few minutes into the film, Martin came out of his room. We said he could sit with us, figuring that watching two guys wat dinner and discuss things like modern art would bore the child to tears. No such luck. He watched the whole thing.

And this brings me to my last point. I'm guessing that every parent with a kid on the spectrum wonders why they didn't catch it sooner. There's a little bit of guilt involved because as soon as you get the diagnosis you hear about the importance of early intervention. How did I not realize something was up with my kid who could sit through "My Dinner with Andre"? Most adults wouldn't sit through that movie.

Life with an autistic child is one in which you are always trying to figure out if you are doing enough. Enough therapy. Enough structure in your family routines. Enough social stimulation, but not so much that it overwhelms. Most of the time, I'm OK with what we've pieced together. I overshoot sometimes, the most recent case being the T-ball disaster. And I constantly underplay our hand. We beg out of parties and stay home on Saturdays because life is just easier that way. So, onto films like "Swiss Family Robinson" and "Singing in the Rain." I'll leave Pixar for more sophisticated types.


  1. linked to your blog through Stacy's facebook post... I am enjoying reading your posts.

    I'm big on slow kids movies.... I highly recommend "The Point"

    That's all...


  2. We just watched, "Singin in the Rain" last night. A big success. We watched Swiss Family Robinson last Fall and I found it traumatizing. It is so outrageously long and really, really violent. I had totally forgotten.

  3. If you haven't tried Charlotte's Web (the old one), you might give it a whirl. Gus has watched it dozens of times, and it is very slow moving, in the way old cartoons are. I also really love the philosophy in it. If you think Martin might be upset by Charlotte dying you could always fast forward. But she dies singing, so...

  4. I agree with the comment about Swiss Family Robinson. Skip that one.

    I also think that every parent who takes his/her job seriously worries about whether he/she is doing enough. And always, there's The Balance. Balance in what the child needs, balance in what the parents need, balance in what the family needs, and balance between all those things. When a child's special needs are introduced into that whole complicated dance, it becomes nearly impossible to maintain a sane balance for anyone. You have to resist the tendency to feel guilty for the ones getting the short end of the stick at any given moment, and you just have to trust that your great love is sufficient to cover your multitude of miscalculations.