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The Power Of Family Is Stronger Than Autism

7th November 2009

A Note…. SPORTS BASH is about sports, but in reality, it’s about more. Since this is a personal blog, there may be intersections into other matters of interest. One of mine (and a growing legion of others around the world) is autism. I hope you will bear with me on the side roads, but as is often the case, the side roads you may not have traveled prior, lead to some interesting places.


Autism is a strange thing. I can’t describe its impact to those that are not around it, but I’m learning daily that it is all around me… you… its effects are everywhere.

A few months ago, I approached my wife about filming a short film for Autism Speaks, the autism awareness advocacy group. They were planning on doing an advertisement about how autism influences family. The requested footage was simple: film the one with autism along with family in a favorite spot where the one with autism enjoyed going. The footage would then be added with others to make the commercial with a voice over.

The location was easy enough for me to select:

CouncilCrestFountainThe location is Council Crest in Portland, OR at the top of what is called the “West Hills”. The location, which has a panoramic view of Portland, also looks west down to where our home is.

In the small park is a drinking fountain of amazing design. It is of a mother holding her child in the air.

The fact that our son, Travis, who has “classic” autism so enjoys the fountain, with the symbolism of the joy of parenthood was staggering to me. It would be perfect for the film.

But, as those that care for one with autism will tell you, your plans are never solid; often times, dismissed due to autism’s chaotic nature.

It could have been the exhaustion. It could have been getting everyone in the family together for the film. Whatever the case, we never made the film and sent it in.

So, it has been of great interest that I saw the finished product today. I found it through an article on TIME.com (see ‘I Am Autism’: Advocacy Video Sparks Protest)

In reading the article, my brow furrowed. The article details how those that are living with autism are planning on protesting the ad, outlining autism’s polarizing effect:

The latest example is the eruption over a video produced for Autism Speaks, the nation’s largest autism advocacy group. The slickly produced video, written by Grammy-nominated songwriter Billy Mann and directed by Academy Award–winning director Alfonso Cuarón, shows a series of images of children with autism, accompanied by an ominous voice-over: “I am Autism … I know where you live … I live there too … I work faster than pediatric AIDS, cancer and diabetes combined … And if you are happily married, I will make sure that your marriage fails.”

Some autistic “self advocates” are furious over the tone of the video. “We don’t want to be portrayed as burdens or objects of fear and pity,” insists Ari Ne’eman, president of the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network, a 15-chapter group he built while attending college at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. “Apparently, should my parents divorce, it’s all my fault,” says Ne’eman, who received a diagnosis of Asperger’s syndrome, a relatively mild form of autism, at age 12.

Sure enough, the video does start that way, with the dark, sinister voice over showing those with autism standing alone. But then, the ad changes… As someone that sees autism’s effect, and yet sees the power of the human condition — the rallying of those that reach out — you see that it the power of those that wish to combat it head long are stronger than the supposed darkness that can come with it.

See for yourself… stick with it till the end. Powerful, is an understatement:


Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He is available for hire or freelance. Brown’s full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.

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One Response to “The Power Of Family Is Stronger Than Autism”

  1. Jason @ IIATMS Says:

    That’s intense. And yes, paying attention to the first half only would lead one to the same incorrect assumptions.

    Too bad people only read the headlines or listen to the first minute.