Monday, October 25, 2010

Movie Review: Temple Grandin

This is another one of those posts that's going to get too long, will surely involve much rambling, and may well end up being more of a time for me to spill my guts rather than review a movie, so I welcome you to grab a cup of coffee/hot chocolate/Mike's Hard Lemonade and make yourself comfortable, or just go ahead and move on to your next blog! :) Either way is fine with me!

One more quick note before I get started: I really have intended to actually blog about our school year but things just keep happening. I promise to get to that as soon as I possibly can.

And now... the movie review (and there will be spoilers):

First of all, let me say as a movie fanatic, that this was a very well-done movie. I absolutely loved Claire Danes' performance and I can clearly see why she won the Emmy. I was also surprised to see one of my favorite actors, David Strathairn, in the role of Dr. Grandin's high school science teacher/mentor - he also won for his role. I felt the movie was well-made, and it was enjoyable to watch.

As a parent of two children on the autism spectrum, it goes much further and deeper than just a good movie. I cried off and on through the movie, specifically the scene where Mrs. Grandin is being told by the doctor that her child has autism, and later where she sees her daughter being teased when she is at the boarding school and the science teacher stops her from leaving with Temple. Both of those scenes hit me hard as a mother of a child with autism.

Wow, this is harder to write than I expected. My thoughts are not flowing - instead they are coming all at once and very disjointed. I hope this all makes sense.

I loved seeing how Temple's smile when something really excited her. I know that expression, even though my kids smile quite freely. There is still something about that look of pure joy they get when they are really, truly excited - and it's usually over something other people might think is weird. But it's not to them. To them, it's pure joy. It also makes me remember how excited Austin used to get when my mom would come to visit. He actually would get so happy, he had to leave the room. He couldn't even say more than hello. He would see her, smile, and then go to this room. It was like that at Christmas time, too. For years he would see the presents and go right back to his room. Too much emotion to process.

I wonder if my kids will ever find their "thing" like Temple did. It really worries me at times, especially with Austin. And I'm not sure if that's because Austin will be a 9th grader next year and I'm spending a lot of time getting my ducks in a row for high school. But academically, it looks less and less like college is in his future, especially a four year college. Thankfully, he is opening up to the idea of life beyond high school that doesn't involve four year college, which is a huge answer to prayer. Several times recently, since his ankle surgery really, he has told me that there are "lots of opportunities out there". What does that mean? I truly don't know... and, while I trust that God has a plan for Austin's life, I often find myself terrified that I won't be able to figure that plan out in time to help Austin pursue it. Reece is still so young that it seems like I have plenty of time... plus I'll have had the experience of getting Austin and Riley to this point.

At the end of the movie, Temple says that her mom made sure she was in school, and out doing things, and being around people. This really hit me hard. I've been wondering lately if I made a mistake in homeschooling. It seems like our circle of homeschoolers has dwindled to practically none, especially when it comes to boys Austin's age. We know many families with young children who homeschool, but few with teenagers, fewer with teenage boys, and even fewer with teenage boys who seem to be able to/desire to relate with Austin. He spends a few hours a week with other boys during the baseball seasons (even with his broken ankle he was going to all the games and sitting with his teammates in the dugout). But I can't put him in academic classes, which is really all there is offered for this age group, because he can't keep up with a high school level class. I've debated asking the teacher if he could participate in the class as well as he can, not be graded or receive credit, and see if they would allow this - but if the work is overwhelming to Austin, it will damage his self-esteem, which seems to be precarious at best these days. Ugh, being 14 is HARD - Autism or not.

And I'm worn out. Mentally exhausted and drained. This school year has actually been one of the best in terms of getting our work done, but I don't feel like I've been able to give any of the children what they really need in terms of interaction and teaching. It's just about all I can do on any given day to get the meals made, never-ending laundry tended, housework somewhat completed, and the lessons for a 3rd, 6th, and 8th grader done. There are few times that I feel like I've had a good 'socratic' discussion with anyone. I'm barely staying on top of the readings, let alone analyzing it for myself so I can discuss it with them. I'm finding that I love the teacher's manuals that will give me some direction on what to say, because it's hard to really think deeply about "The Littles", "Little Women", and "Around the World in 80 Days" all at the same time. What are they missing out on? Is there an amazing art teacher that Reece is missing out on by being home with her mother who is loathe to get the paints out because of the mess. Is there a way for Austin to get auto mechanics classes, or maybe some sort of meteorology class where he can learn more about storm chasing? What about drama and choir for Riley that involves children her own age, rather than constantly involving the younger siblings because it's convenient for the other homeschool parents? I do the best I can... but there are 3 of them and one of me. And sometimes it would be nice - so very, very, very nice - not to be having to do all of this all by myself. Sometimes it would be nice to be the one they are complaining TO, not the one they are complaining ABOUT.

Okie dokie... back to the movie! LOL

Temple drives a car and lives on her own! That was so exciting for me! You don't know how often I wonder if Reece will be able to drive and live on her own. I'm pretty sure Austin will be able to drive, but with this economy, and the likelihood of him not having a college education, I am concerned about his ability to support himself and live on his own.

I also loved the moment towards the end of the movie where Temple was having a hard time leaving the store through the automated doors, and a kind lady helped her by holding the doors open. Outside the store, Temple learned that the lady's husband worked for the plant that Temple wanted to redesign. God placed that lady in Temple's path for a reason. Through that small interaction, she was able to get an inside connection to a place that was inaccessible to her previously! It was awesome!

Ok, I warned you I was going to ramble. And wow, did I! LOL Hope that makes some sense. I am still so full of emotions even now, nearly 24 hours after watching it. But I'm not sure if that's a reflection on the movie, or on the state of my mind recently! ;)


poohder said...

(((JEN))) hugs... I understand. Now I want to watch this movie.


My daughter did this too and still does sometimes during a movie.

The Glasers said...

Mike's Hard Lemonade . . . Hmmmm . . . might be good with the head cold.

I completely agree with you about the quality of the movie and how it captured autism. Pamela has that same smile of pure joy and still has to leave the room when she's that happy!

We haven't answered any of the questions you are asking about Austin. The one difference is that Pamela is less self-aware than he is and doesn't compare herself to her peers, not even her "little" brother.

Daphne said...

Christian wrote an essay yesterday on the pros and cons of homeschooling and said that the lack of friends was a "con". That really breaks my heart. I feel torn between trying to find friends for him (through classes, sports ect)and the rest of the children who have friends in abundance. Where are the high school home schoolers???
Wanna get the boys together??