First, I had the chance to meet with a wonderful group called F.A.C.T. They have programs for both younger and older children, where the kids can work on socializing in low pressure environments and with other kids who are on the spectrum.
I met with parents during the younger children's time. They were such a supportive group. A new family with an autistic child had just moved to town, and the mothers were helping answer questions about school districts and suppport services, as well as dealing with some employees at Disneyland who did not want to extend the ADA help to autistic families. They talked to me about a therapy with which I am not familiar known as RDI and shared some of the stories about receiving mis-diagnosis before getting diagnosis.
The older group met later. Those kids work on, among other things, public address. They write and perform presentations for schools on what autism is to help the student bodies acclimate to their students who are on the spectrum. The kids were really great, and several shared their presentations with me (which were fantastic! if you have a school that could benefit from their visit, contact them.), and then we talked for a while about their feelings on the way ASD is usually portrayed in film and TV. These kids find the overblown representations commonly found really grating and even insulting. They were more eloquent on the topic than I am able to reproduce here. It was especially flattering towards our movie to hear them praise Alvin's work so highly.
I can't thank them enough for allowing me into their meeting, and for sharing their work and their feelings. Very inspiring. Several said they were coming to the screening this weekend, which is exciting. I really hope they take time to meet the NT attendees. We get used to those same exaggerated representations we see on screen all the time; it might help to meet some actual people on the sspectrum and see what they are really like.
I will post again soon about the Orange County Aspie Support Group, and a fascinating conversation I had with leading ABA proponent Dr. Ronald Leaf at Autism Partnership. For now I have to get ready for the filmmakers' meet'n'greet tonight.