Monday, April 09, 2012

We Are Fine Enough: A Mother's Story of Her Son and His Severe Autism Realities

We Are Fine Enough, the video embedded below, is a moving and honest account of Charlie and his severe autism and cognitive impairment.  The story is told through the narrative of his mother Cynthia Bartlett, who lives with Charlie  here in New Brunswick, and photos taken over an extended period  by photographer and photojournalist  Marc Schlossman.   More details,  as posted on Vimeo, follow the video.  As anyone reading this site is aware, my son Conor also suffers from the realities of severe autism.  I was moved by Cynthia's honest, calm  portrayal of her son's challenges and the evidence it provides of the severe autism realities that do not usually show up in large mainstream media productions.  


We Are Fine Enough from Marc Schlossman on Vimeo.


'We Are Fine Enough' is an intimate, powerful and sensitive portrayal of the life of an autistic child and the ways in which he and his family cope with his disability. In 1994, Marc Schlossman began a photojournalism project documenting the life of Charlie, a five-year-old boy with severe autism and profound learning difficulties. He has continued documenting Charlie, now 20, and his family. Cynthia Bartlett, Charlie's mother, saw her one-year-old son develop the most severe level of autism within autistic spectrum disorder. Only now is Charlie starting to seek and enjoy social contact. Yet he remains self-injurious, he has no ability to speak and he is incontinent. He is dependent on his mother and those around him for his basic care.

'We Are Fine Enough' consists entirely of still photographs from Charlie's life with a narration by his mother. The film began as four 3-minute films commissioned by Channel 4 in the UK for their '3-Minute Wonders' slot and was broadcast in September 2005. Marc began the project to increase awareness of lives with autism and to build a greater understanding of autistic spectrum disorders. 'We Are Fine Enough' is the culmination in film of a long-term commitment to providing a unique view into lives with autism. 

3 comments:

farmwifetwo said...

I've been more than a little irritated at the TPGTA's "we're not disabled but we are hijacking the autism dx" posts this month. I was talking to my FSW last week - she's going with us tomorrow to the eldest's re-dx appt - and she told me that they are being ignored in the real world.

They and their parents are coming demanding services and funding but since they aren't disabled are being turned away.

After our appt tomorrow we'll be writing those "thank you for being there but we no longer need" letters.... unlike them, I don't believe in taking what is not mine. 10yrs ago this month we were told that he would always be disabled... I'm expecting to be told "welcoming to normal"... Normal of course being "independant" which these people listed on that blog are.

So, when they tell you they "can't" and how they "deserve"".... they can, and they don't.

It's not perfect, social skills are still a work in progress - and still IEP'd. He has a permanent notebook computer. His ability to concentrate vanished these last few months - puberty - and he's at 10mg of adderall/day - barely takes the edge off. He's going for tutoring on Fri nights to teach "Theory of mind" and how to answer explain/describe questions.

These things aren't "special".... all can be learned if you want to badly enough.

Kim Oakley said...

This is a beautiful video. Charlie has a lot of similarities to my son, Jamey. The mom is amazing. What a sweet spirit. I wish I could be so calm. Must be the Irish in me (ha ha). I love how she illuminates so many realities that aren't often heard in mainstream media about living with severe autism. I like how the pictures show her son is still in diapers (a reality) and how he hits his head (a reality). She is a strong woman and her son is so blessed to have this mom. I worry about her though, as I know too well how stressful this can be. At some point, she will need support. I didn't see in video that she had home support. Maybe she doesn't need it now, but someday she will. Or Charlie will be in a group home. Whatever happens I will keep my eye on this mom and son and maybe parents like her, you and myself can continue to bring awareness to severe autism in hopes of a brighter future for this often misunderstood and forgotten side of autism spectrum. Thanks so much for showing this video. It really touched me. I'm so proud of this mom.

BLOOM - Parenting Kids With Disabilities said...

That is a stunningly beautiful and real piece. I am going to link to it on BLOOM. Thank you for sharing. Louise