Tuesday, June 29, 2010
He ended up sitting down and never got his face wet but I definitely feel it was a step in the right direction.
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
In Their Own Words – Awe, Autism
We recently received this e-mail from a parent:
My son was diagnosed with PDD-NOS at the age of two and a half. He’s had years of Skills Trainers and Autism Consultants who have helped him navigate his world. He’s fully mainstreamed in a public school here in Hawaii (he’s in the seventh grade) and is doing exceptionally well (scoring A’s in his Advanced Placement math, etc.) Although his autism diagnosis is his “Big Secret” which he shares with a very select group of people, his English teacher encouraged him to write about his struggles for his English paper (she promised she wouldn’t share it with the class). I wanted to share this story with the autism community because it can perhaps give others some perspective and inspiration with respect to their struggles.
Have you ever had a challenge that you had to overcome, but you did not want anybody to know about it? Hi, I am (name redacted), and I have been dealing with this challenge for as long as I ever lived. I was born with a disability called autism. Yes, I seem like I am functioning regularly in society, but appearances can actually be deceiving. I will explain later what autism is, how I dealt with this and what I have learned from this experience. Come and explore my deep secret of my life.
First, I will tell you the many things I experienced while I had autism. I sometimes had a hard time in school. I was disorganized and I also sometimes couldn’t focus when I was young. I had a hard childhood and this struggle for my “survival” was hard to overcome. I sometimes ask my mom, “Why me? Why did God choose me to lack what other people have?” I felt like I was an alien in school and was I thought I was very different from other people. I felt so discouraged that I ran away from home and ran as fast as I could. I brought clothes, a toothbrush and toothpaste, money to survive and I also wrote a note to tell my mom that I was leaving. I finally came home within four hours of running away from home.
In addition, I will tell you how I solved this dilemma. I try to think positive and try hard in making friends, which was hard for me to do. I was actually good at the academics, but I was (and am still) struggling with planning and applying my strategies to the real world. There were many people out there to help me and I do give them credit to all of their accomplishments. I tried to follow their advice and sometimes failed, but yes they did help me out. I also stay on a special diet so that I can concentrate more. I find it does help.
Next, I shall tell you what I learned from this experience. I learned that I am not an alien and am normal. In fact, I think that this is actually a good experience. I am more grateful to what I can do. I had things that I could not do that other people could do, but now I can do those things, which I do not take in vain. I also finally learned that I have the strength inside of me to overcome challenges. Now, when I do face challenges like this, I can know inside that “I AM AN OVERCOMER!”
Overall, I have reflected on this challenge and I feel good that I could face this challenge and almost beat it. However, I am still facing with this challenge of autism. So far, I am doing well and I think that I have gone farther than I have ever thought I could go. This is a message to all of you: whatever challenge you are facing, find the real problem and solve the real problem. Believe in yourself and have inner strength to fight the problem if it’s physically or mentally.
This “In Their Own Words” essay is written by a seventh grade student in Hawaii and was submitted by his mother.
“In Their Own Words” is a series within the Autism Speaks blog which shares the voices of people who have autism, as well as their loved ones. If you have a story you wish to share about your personal experience with autism, please send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. Autism Speaks reserves the right to edit contributions for space, style and content. Because of the volume of submissions, not all can be published on the site.
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
Monday, June 7, 2010
Jet Li in new movie about autism
The Autism News | English
Jet Li visited dolphins as he promoted Ocean Heaven
By The Press Association
Jet Li says he hopes his new movie about autism offers a refreshing alternative to the historical and kung fu epics that dominate the Chinese industry.
The veteran action star plays an aquarium worker who cares for his autistic son in the low-budget Ocean Heaven – his first Chinese-language production since the 2007 release of The Warlords.
“Nowadays everyone is making blockbusters. Making a seven million Chinese yuan (1 million US dollars) movie requires a lot of sincerity,” Li told reporters in Hong Kong. “This movie is about sincerity. It shows that in this day and age that filmmakers are willing to do something for society.”
The actor promoted the movie by visiting the dolphins at Hong Kong’s Ocean Park with a small group of mentally handicapped and autistic adults.
“I hope everyone can examine what is the most important relationship in life – the relationship between parent and child,” he said.
Like Jackie Chan, a fellow kung fu star who crossed over to Hollywood from the Hong Kong movie industry, Li also now juggles careers in Chinese and American films.
After taking a break from movies in May 2008, Jet Li returns to the Chinese film market with his new movie Ocean Heaven (Hai Yang Tian Tang), expected to open at the end of June. The movie tells the story of an autistic twenty-two-year-old named Wang Dafu. Jet Li plays the boy’s terminally ill father, who works in an aquarium and takes care of his son day and night. The boy’s mother died several years ago from drowning, but Dafu himself is quit adept in the water.
In the trailer, father and son are sitting on a dilapidated wooden boat. The father, Wang Xincheng, uses a rope to tie him and his son together, and then says, “Son, let’s go.” Dafu repeats, “Let’s go,” and the two jump together into the ocean.
For an actor who could have easily demanded more than a hundred million yuan to appear in a film, what could have caused Jet Li to accept a role in Ocean Heaven, which had a budget of a mere seven million? The story, for one thing — Jet Li hopes it will inspire people to pay more attention and dedicate their compassion to charity. (Appropriately, TIME magazine named Jet Li one of its Most Influential People this year for his work with his One Foundation.) He also reveals that four or five years ago, his nephew had been diagnosed with autism. His nephew is now better, but this incident made him realize how important it is to offer attention and care to those who are affected.
He also admits that it was not easy to interpret his character. Because Jet Li’s father died when he was two years old, he didn’t understand the concept of the word “father” for a long time. When he was filming The Shaolin Temple, there was a line where he had to yell bà ba (dad), which he found himself unable to say: “In the end, the director changed it to diē (another word for dad). I thought diē had nothing to do with me, so I could say it. It wasn’t until I became a father that I clearly understood what this role of a father meant.”
Playing his son Dafu is Wen Zhang, who, apart from having a terrible name (same characters as for the word “essay”), came to fame with the drama Struggle. Reporters who have already seen the movie say he’s like a “young Rain Man,” referring to Dustin Hoffman’s iconic role in the movie Rain Man.
In order to portray this character well, Wen Zhang went swimming every day. He previously did not know how to swim, but because swimming and diving are his character’s strong points, he became an expert swimmer. He also visited an autism school every day, working to understand the students’ way of thinking. Thanks to this, we may have another Jet Li in our hands (at least, with the charity aspect, not the martial arts), as he says about his experience: “I found something that is more important than performing.”
Ocean Heaven marks the directorial debut of Xue Xiaolu, who is known for writing the script for Chen Kaige’s award-winning film Together (He Ni Zai Yi Qi). The inspiration for the movie came from her own experience working as a volunteer worker at an autism school. Also putting in an appearance is Kwai Lunmei, who acts out a clown in an acrobatic troupe. Her character is an orphan and can thus relate with Wen Zhang’s character. According to her, “this is the most moving script I have ever seen. At that time I told the company that I definitely had to act [in it]. I didn’t care how big or small the role was, or how ugly the costume was.”
For the first time in this 25-year-long movie career, Jet Li will be performing no martial arts whatsoever in this movie. As for whether he will continue to give up martial arts in the future, Jet Li repeatedly denies it: “I reckon no matter what I want to do, no one will forgive me. I filmed Ocean Heaven in the hopes that more people would pay attention to charity. Right now, filming is my hobby. My job is The One Foundation.”
Pretty stills from the movie below.