Documentary celebrates Miami band of people with disabilities

The documentary For Once in My Life features Florida’s Spirit of Goodwill Band and its musicians and singers, all of whom have disabilities, including autism and Down syndrome.

If you didn’t get to see this documentary about the remarkable power of music in the band members’ lives at a film festival or community screening, you’re in luck. PBS will show For Once in My Life on Feb. 1. Check the PBS For Once in My Life web page for local listings.

The movie also has an awesome soundtrack, available on the For Once in My Life website.

Do you have the post-holiday season doldrums? For an uplifting experience, attend the Community Cinema Tuesday evening and view, “For Once in My Life.” This is a film about 29 unlikely people who form a band. Why “unlikely?” Because they all have disabilities ranging from autism, Down Syndrome, cerebral palsy blindness, to behavioral disorders.

If you think of Goodwill as just a place to donate and purchase used clothing and goods, this movie will have you think again. Goodwill Industries includes a manufacturing plant where people of all backgrounds and experience are given a chance to become independent and gain self-respect. Whether sewing American flags or pockets for military garments, the handicapped work hard. Watching a woman deftly stitching a pocket using her only hand is impressive. She looks up, smiles and says, “I have magic fingers.”

The Spirit of Goodwill Band was formed at Goodwill Industries of South Florida in 1981 to encourage social and recreational skills with people who are handicapped. Some of the 29 people had never played an instrument before, never stood up in front of an audience. But, the band was open to everyone. All had one thing in common: A shared love of music and a dream to share their music with the world and prove a disability would not prevent them from performing.

via COMMUNITY CINEMA: ‘For Once in My Life’ an ‘uplifting experience’ |

Kids With Autism Get Big-Screen Break

Today’s mainstream movie experience can be big, bold and loud — driven by 3-D, IMAX and surround-sound technologies and designed to immerse audiences in a fictional world.

But that can sometimes be too much for children with autism, who can have difficulty communicating, reading social cues and tolerating sensory stimulation others take for granted — everything from attending a birthday party to going to the movies.

Renee Hill says the huge screen, darkened room and loud soundtrack often overwhelm her 4-year-old son, Weston, who otherwise loves watching videos.

“You’ll constantly notice him look uncomfortable and cover his ears, but if he really gets overwhelmed, then he’ll just shut down and have a meltdown and start to cry,” Hill explains.

As the national rate of autism diagnoses climbs, parents and advocates have persuaded some theaters to tone it down.

A number of theaters across the country now hold sensory-friendly movie showings to accommodate those with autism: The house lights stay on, the sound remains low, and there are no ads or previews before films. The screenings are beginning to catch on.

The sensory-friendly trend started two years ago, after a Maryland mother got kicked out of a movie theater when her autistic daughter became overwhelmed and disruptive during a showing of Hairspray. The mom got in touch with the Autism Society, a national advocacy group, which in turn contacted the AMC theaters chain about offering a low-key movie option once a month.

via IMAX’d Out: Kids With Autism Get Big-Screen Break : NPR.

‘Clay Marzo: Just Add Water’ and

“Clay Marzo: Just Add Water,” the award-winning documentary about a champion surfer with Asperger’s syndrome is available as a DVD or download. It gets a good review here from AspieWeb.

If you’re a fan of Clay Marzo or surfing, check out for some fabulous photos and videos.

From AspieWeb:

So I finally was able to watch a video about world famous surfer with Autism Clay Marzo. The movie titled ‘Just Add Water’ is a great video and I highly recommend it! The video does a good job showing how successful and great people with Autism can be. This is a great video for the person with Autism who is feeling down and like they will not be successful. There are also interview with Dr. Tony Attwod the world expert on Aspergers.

via Clay Marzo: Just Add Water – Autistic Surfer.

‘Temple Grandin’ on DVD with Grandin commentary

“Temple Grandin,” the HBO movie starring Claire Danes as the accomplished, autistic Grandin, is now available on DVD. The DVD includes commentary by Grandin. The movie is up for 17 Emmy Awards — read about it on Temple Grandin’s website.

Nearly every parent of an autistic child knows about Temple Grandin, the bestselling author and brilliant agricultural scientist who’s been a model for what children on that spectrum can become. Playing Grandin in this HBO biopic, Claire Danes captures Grandin’s braying monotone, stooped posture and default defensive stance to other people, but she also conveys her sense of humor and how she makes connections others can’t.

via New on DVD: ‘Temple Grandin’ –

TV programs about autism, Alzheimer’s to be honored

The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences – also known as the Emmys – this week will honor eight TV programs, including “Unlocking Autism” and “Grandpa, Do You Know Who I Am? With Maria Shriver,” about children whose grandparents have Alzheimer’s.

TV academy honors 8 TV shows ‘with a conscience’

LOS ANGELES — A “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” episode about prejudice and an Alzheimer’s documentary with Maria Shriver are among eight programs to be honored Wednesday for demonstrating the power of TV.

The third annual Television Academy Honors spotlighting shows found to exemplify “television with a conscience” will be hosted by Dana Delany. The announcement was made by the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences.

Presenters were scheduled to include former Vice President Al Gore, Joel Grey and Shriver, the first lady of California and former NBC News correspondent.

via The Associated Press: TV academy honors 8 TV shows `with a conscience’.

10 Mountains 10 Years


10 Mountains 10 Years opens May 5 and looks like a great documentary about an international mountain-climbing expedition that raised money and awareness for Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.

Chronicling the worldwide epic created by mountain climber Enzo Simone, 10 Mountains 10 Years is a movie that follows his international team of mountain climbers as they scale 10 of the greatest peaks in the world to raise awareness and funds for Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Disease. 45 vertical miles. 7 countries. 6 continents. 2 diseases. And one decade. Focusing on Mt. Kilimanjaro, the film tracks the greatest advances happening in the medical community alongside the team’s endurance at altitude.

via 10 Mountains 10 Years (Trailer) |

Comparing how people with and without autism view “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf”

Public Radio International’s Studio 360 has an interesting audio post and slide show on a Yale School of Medicine study that compares how people with and without autism viewed the movie “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf.” Eye-tracking technology showed that the two groups looked at entirely different things, sometimes in surprising ways.

Science is looking for ways to better understand an autistic person’s perception of the world. Using laser technology, Ami Klin and Warren Jones of the Yale School of Medicine screened “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf” and tracked the gazes of autistic viewers precisely, to study how they perceive social interactions. Biologist David Gruber visited their lab to learn about the technique.

via Studio 360: Autism, Flanagan, Shearwater.

With autism film, Boston-area mother reaches out

Eliza Mury was only one year old when she said her first word — ‘‘doggie’’ — and a few more words followed. But soon her parents noticed that her vocabulary seemed frozen. Speech therapy didn’t help.

Eliza’s mother, Aimee Mury, took her daughter to doctors and specialists, but none diagnosed anything more serious than a hearing deficiency. Friends and relatives, though, had gently begun to suggest that Eliza might be autistic. Aimee Mury was so fearful of the condition, she could barely say the word.

After repeated exams by specialists, Eliza was diagnosed with autism when she was 2 1/2, in the spring of 2007. Aimee Mury read everything she could about the condition. But as she learned about traits and treatment, she had a hard time seeing what an autistic child looked like.

‘‘It’s very hard initially to meet other people and kids,’’ Mury said. ‘‘I was on YouTube and I was trying to search for autism. And I found there was very little out there.’’

Nearly three years after Eliza’s diagnosis, Aimee Mury has helped create a movie about her daughter and their struggle to get her diagnosed called ‘‘Eliza, My Songbird.’’ The movie, produced and directed by Mury’s neighbor, Zadi Zokou, will have its first public showing Sunday at Natick’s Morse Institute Library.

via In film on autism, mother reaches out – Natick – Your Town –

Tying Your Own Shoes: A film featuring artists with Down syndrome

The film “Tying Your Own Shoes” features artists with Down syndrome who were given a chance to create animated self portraits. Here, a trailer for the film and a review from the Toronto Star, which calls the short film “nothing short of wonderful.”

`I’m a little bit unusual but I’m fine.”

As apt a description of Down syndrome – or any diversity, for that matter – as you are likely to hear.

It comes from a sweet and insightful short film Tying Your Own Shoes, 16 minutes of wisdom and whimsy from four artists with Down syndrome. They were part of a summer animation workshop offered by filmmaker Shira Avni, who challenged them to create self-portraits on celluloid. The results are nothing short of wonderful.

via Short film offers wisdom from artists with Down syndrome –