Friday, October 9, 2009

wisdom of the flemish

Tonight, my awesome neighbor brought over a movie for us to watch after we stuffed our faces full of homemade pizza. The movie, Ben X, is a Flemish film about a teenager with Asperger's Syndrome. It's very dark, as much about bullying as it is about the autism spectrum. Without ruining the ending, I can say that I learned one thing. Every one of us who is "typically developing" (or normal in a variety of other ways) needs a regular dose in other folks' perspectives. The film brought me into Ben's world, a place in which loud noise, brutish people, and stupid conversations bring him nothing but pain. It also showed me the power in typical people willing to listen to, embrace, and acknowledge the experience of autistics.

This lesson, of course, can be taken in lots of directions. I don't need lessons in adapting myself to only autistics' worldviews, but also people with mental illness, or physical infirmity, or anything else that makes them feel set apart.

So, thank you, neighbor, for bringing over this movie. Thanks for showing it to your typical kids. Thanks for reminding me that my world is not the world. Who knew that anything so striking had emerged from the Flemish since the Lowland artists in the realist tradition?

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