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The Reason I Jump


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I couldn't find a thread on this documentary about nonverbal autistic kids, which was one of my favorite films of last year. I sought it out after reading a rave review from Joe Morgenstern during the six months last year that I subscribed to the Wall Street Journal. While the film is lovely to look at - it's visually quite beautiful in ways I wouldn't have expected considering the subject matter - I was very much taken with the film's main content: a demonstration of methods depicted to show how these kids "verbalize" their thoughts. I'm no expert, and while I know the main method highlighted is viewed skeptically by some researchers/scientists, this is a rare instance where my excitement at what I was seeing made my journalistic skepticism take a back seat to hope and joy.

Why am I launching a thread about this movie now? Sorry for the possible digression, but my wife and I became foster parents a couple of years ago and, having sent our one-and-only (so far) placement to her "forever home" earlier this month, we've just been contacted about possibly fostering a 4-year-old autistic boy who's noncommunicative. I immediately thought of this film. While we have very basic questions at the moment that will influence whether or not we take the boy into our home - he's a biter who, we're told, would benefit from older kids in the home who could "self protect" (uh oh! although as I told my wife, "Better to deal with a 4-year-old who manifests such behavior than a teenager!")  - part of me wants to foster the boy in the hopes that we can help him become more communicative. Whether or not that looks like the communication we see in the documentary or he actually starts to speak (he hums for now), it would be interesting to learn about how to care for kids like him - even if he never becomes more communicative while with us. (Part of the reason we were contacted is because our previous placement was noncommunicative when she came to us, then blossomed through time in our home and public-school programs for kids on the spectrum - a program this boy would also be part of.) 

I don't really have a question. This is a thread about a film, and I'd love to hear what others thought of The Reason I Jump. But I also wouldn't mind hearing about any experience readers have had with noncommunicative autistic kids, even if that means this thread gets moved to another area of the board.

Edited by Christian

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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Good on you, Christian - it takes a special kind of person to be a devoted foster parent, and I commend you and your wife for it.  As for this film, I loved it as well - along with Life, Animated and Temple Grandin, it's one of my three go-to films to put you in the shoes of someone with autism.  I ranked it 7 or 8 on my Best of 2020 list, and was very touched when the director singled my review out as someone who got his film.

I'm pretty sure communication boards are regarded as legit in the treatment world, as I seem to recall my wife and I having this conversation (she's a speech language pathologist and also adored this film).  Just curious, Christian, did you make use of applied behavior analysis with your previous foster kid?  ABAs are true heroes and wonder workers, in my estimation.

I guess I'll link to my review: https://www.patheos.com/blogs/secularcinephile/2020/10/diy-virtual-film-fest-part-9-the-reason-i-jump/

To be an artist is never to avert one's eyes.
- Akira Kurosawa


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