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Claire Danes wins Golden Globe for “Temple Grandin”

January 17, 2011 4 comments

Congratulations to Claire Danes, who won a Golden Globe for Best Performance By An Actress In A Mini-Series Or Motion Picture Made For Television for her work in HBO’s “Temple Grandin.” The much lauded film won seven Emmy’s in August of 2010 and is available for purchase on DVD.

Watch Danes’s acceptance speech below and read an interview with Grandin from the red carpet.

HBO’s “Temple Grandin” Wins Seven Emmy Awards

August 30, 2010 16 comments

Congratulations to everyone who was involved in the creation and production of HBO’s “Temple Grandin,” which won seven Emmy Awards, including Outstanding Made for TV Movie and Outstanding Actress in a Miniseries or Movie. Special recognition goes to executive producers Emily Gerson Saines, Gil Bellows, and Anthony Edwards, who are supporters of Autism Speaks.

Check out the acceptance speech here and watch Temple Grandin on the red carpet here.

“Temple Grandin” is currently airing on HBO and the DVD is available for purchase.

View the movie trailer here and check out PopWatch on EW.com: “Temple Grandin” wins big at Emmys. But who is she?

Additional congratulations to our good friend and supporter, Tom Colicchio, whose program “Top Chef” was honored with an Emmy Award for Outstanding Reality – Competition Program.

In Their Own Words – One New Message

August 28, 2010 27 comments


This “In Their Own Words” is by Laura Traw, who has a son with autism.

Sometimes I have a hard time watching shows regarding autism. No matter how I prepare myself, I find myself either turning off or walking away for awhile, then always coming back. My thought process always seems to be, “I am living this life. It’s too painful to watch someone else go through it as well.”

When HBO aired “Temple Grandin” (great job, by the way), my husband and I (on the west coast) watched the east coast feed while my best friend, who is in Tampa, watched at the same time.  Periodically, we would text one another, something like this, “how r u holding up” Me: “so far so good”. Then, there is a point in the movie when the doctors told Temple’s mother that Temple needed to be institutionalized. I don’t remember the exact correspondence between the two but the message was all too clear. There was no cure, no hope.

Another text came through, “are you ok” No, I’m not.

I looked at my husband, tears streaming down my face. I felt like someone was standing on my chest; I couldn’t breathe and I could not stop this waterfall. What was happening to me?

“I can’t watch this,” I said, as I got up and started walking out the room.

He stood up and came over to me. I could barely make his face out, because my eyes were covered with tears. He hugged me, really hugged me – which was good because I felt like I was going to collapse.

I put my head in his chest and sobbed, “I just can’t.” Without hesitation he stopped the DVR, and said “It’s okay.”

It wasn’t “okay” – this is our life!

Maybe I’ll learn or see something that will help, that I can do, I’m thinking. Why was I feeling like this? I have to pull it together, I have to be strong for my son. How can I fight this battle if I can’t sit through a movie or a show about autism?

My phone vibrates, another text, “this is so good, what an amazing movie.”

Amazing? This isn’t amazing – nothing about any of this is amazing. I text back, “had to turn off, can’t watch.”

Does no one understand this? I know this is a great story and I know she has made such strides and is a voice of hope, reason and even understanding to this disorder.

What is wrong with me?

I am strong. I have been strong. I will, and have fought for my little guy and I dare anyone to tell me we can’t or he won’t be able to do something because of autism.

Why can’t I watch this movie?

I leave the room, utterly and completely defenseless of my own thoughts. I start doing laundry, anything to keep me busy. My husband comes in. I keep my head down, because I know I am going to start crying; I am weak.

I can’t be weak.

“I love you,” he says, standing in the doorway. I pour the laundry soap into the washing machine; I still can’t look up. “I love you, too,” I say, my voice quivering.

He sets my phone on the counter and there it is, telling me, “one new message.” I read it – “you are an amazing mom.”

That’s it, just that.

How is it that when I am so weak, my husband is so strong or although miles and miles apart, a best friend still knows just what to say?

I don’t know, but with that and about an hour to pull myself together, I sit on the couch with my husband holding hands. Sometimes I’m clinching.

We laughed, we cried and WE made it through the whole movie. It’s still hard for me to watch some things, but I am so thankful for these amazing people who open themselves and their lives up for the rest of us to see, hear, read and learn from. We are not alone, I am not alone.

It is because of such courageous people, my family, my husband and, yes, my best friend that I, too, have opened up about this journey.

These are raw emotions, me, us, our son. There are some moments when I feel like I just can’t make it one more minute. Then there are moments like the other day when I pointed to the color red and my son said, “RED.” Or last week when we were at the beach and he could not get dirty enough. We didn’t have to spend hours wiping every piece of sand off of him, or wash his hands numerous times to make sure there was no more dirt. A big day for us!

My heart hurts. I get angry and yes, sad. I am strong, but sometimes I feel defeated. I cry alone, because I don’t want anyone to see my tears. But, I open myself up because I know that I have a great family, wonderful friends, a husband that I adore, a son that is the love of my life; and yes, I am an amazing mom!

“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 editors@autismspeaks.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.


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Autism in Cinema

July 14, 2010 4 comments

Over the past few years, the prevalence rates of autism have become staggering, with 1 in 110 children being diagnosed with autism. There have been several movies and documentaries which have placed autism at the forefront. These movies have spread awareness and helped to inform the masses. Here is a list of some movies that have a common theme of autism. Thanks to The Internet Movie Database, we have synopses of each for you. Follow the links to learn more about these films and documentaries. Which of these movies have you watched? What did you think?

A Mother’s Courage: Talking Back to Autism (2009)
The Sunshine Boy is a moving, compassionate portrayal of a mother’s desperate quest to understand the perplexing condition that controls her son. A journey through different countries, where every stop-over opens a new path into the depths of autism – and places her son in a strikingly different perspective as it reaches the end. Read more.

Adam (2009)
Soon after moving in, Beth, a brainy, beautiful writer damaged from a past relationship encounters Adam, the handsome, but odd, fellow in the downstairs apartment whose awkwardness is perplexing. Beth and Adam’s ultimate connection leads to a tricky relationship that exemplifies something universal: truly reaching another person means bravely stretching into uncomfortable territory and the resulting shake-up can be liberating. Read more.

Autism: The Musical (2007)
Director Tricia’s Regan’s riveting documentary follows five different families, participating in The Miracle Project (a theatre program created specifically for children with special needs) as their kids write and perform their own musical production. The film is as much about the parents of autistic kids as it is about the kids themselves. How does one communicate with a child who won’t speak? What do you do when your kid only sleeps two hours per night? How do you cope with a world that has little use or compassion for kids that are so different? These are only a few of the questions that the parents must deal with, questions illustrated by a series of almost painfully honest and blunt encounters. Perhaps the most surprising of the kids profiled is Neal, the son of Elaine Hall, who founded the Miracle Project. Profoundly autistic, he hardly speaks, and is prone to violent tantrums, but when he is finally fitted with a keyboard voice box, a sweet, intelligent personality is revealed. A complete triumph! Read more.

The Black Balloon (2008)
Thomas is turning 16. His dad’s in the army and they’ve just moved to a town in New South Wales; his mom is pregnant; his older brother, Charlie, who’s autistic, has his own adolescent sexual issues. Thomas finds Charlie an embarrassment in public, so when Thomas is attracted to Jackie, a girl in his swim class, Charlie presents any number of obstacles when she drops by their house, when the three of them go for a walk, and during a family birthday dinner. Can Thomas find a way enter the world of teen romance and still be his brother’s keeper, or is Charlie’s disability going to prove more than Thomas can handle? Read more.

God’s Ears (2007)
Alexia, working in the sex industry, her perspective on men soured by her job, can’t seem to find her way out. When she encounters Noah in a restaurant, he can barely look at her, not because she’s beautiful, and she is, but because it’s simply just too painful to gaze upon a face, any face. His autism, though seen as a handicap by others, is the condition that causes him to “see” Alexia not as a sex object, but as she wishes to see herself–as good and worthy to be loved just as she is. He captures her attention and her heart. It would seem an unlikely meeting, but Worth creatively draws the parallels of human loneliness and longing that bring these two people together in an unforgettably touching story of the heart. Read more.

Mozart and the Whale (2005)
A dramatic-comedy, inspired by the lives of two people with Asperger’s Syndrome, a form of autism, whose emotional dysfunctions threaten to sabotage their budding romance. Donald is a good-natured but hapless taxi driver with a love of birds and a superhuman knack for numbers. Like many people with AS, he likes patterns and routines. But when the beautiful but complicated Isabel joins the autism support group he leads, his life – and his heart – are turned upside down. Read more.

Temple Grandin (2010)
Biopic of Temple Grandin, an autistic woman who overcame the limitations imposed on her by her condition to become an expert in the field of animal husbandry. She developed an interest in cattle early in life while spending time at her Aunt and Uncle’s ranch. She did not speak until age four and had difficulty right through high school, mostly in dealing with people. Her mother was very supportive as were some of her teachers. She is noted for creating her ‘hug box’, widely recognized today as a way of relieving stress and her humane design for the treatment of cattle in processing plants, even winning an award from PETA. Today, she is a professor at Colorado State University. Read more.

Walking in the Dark : Finding the Light in Autism (2010)
In the documentary, “Walking In The Dark: Finding The Light In Autism” hope is restored. The primary purpose of this documentary is to serve as an educational tool to help parents seek those unanswered questions, find ways to network and to get involved. And, through meeting the families, find hope. You will come into their lives, their homes, and see how they live day to day. See how they cope, how they search for the best therapies and medical attention they can find for their children. And, most of all, through the eyes of their children, see the hope. Read more.

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“Temple Grandin” Receives 15 Emmy Nominations

July 9, 2010 9 comments

Congratulations to everyone who was involved in the creation and production of HBO’s “Temple Grandin,” which received 15 Emmy nominations.

From specialchildren.about.com:

The nominations for the 62nd Primetime Emmy Awards were revealed this morning, and HBO’s biopic Temple Grandin cleaned up with 15 nominations, including one for Claire Danes’s portrayal of Grandin, two supporting-actress nods for Julia Ormond as Temple’s mother and Catherine O’Hara as Temple’s aunt, supporting-actor recognition for David Strathairn as a sympathetic teacher, and nominations for writing, directing, and best made-for-TV movie.

What an honor it is for Temple to have her remarkable life story honored in this fashion; we are confident that our friends in the autism community will join us in echoing that sentiment. The movie is currently airing on HBO and HBO On-Demand – check it out and share your thoughts.

More from the Autism Speaks Blog about the film

“Temple Grandin” Premiere in Los Angeles

Tune In – “Temple Grandin” on HBO (You can view the movie trailer here.)

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In Their Own Words – Focusing on the “Cans”

June 27, 2010 6 comments

This “In Their Own Words” essay was submitted by Teresa Greenwood of Hays, Kansas, who has a daughter with autism.

This was my first celebration of World Autism Awareness Day. A year ago I didn’t know that April 2 was anything other than another day on the calendar.

Did I ever think about autism before my two-year-old daughter was diagnosed – no. Sure, I’d heard of it, and I sympathized with families that “had to deal” with a child with a disability. I did not know anyone with a child with autism, however. And I never would have thought it would affect my family, but it has.

Morgan’s diagnosis, and her progress since then, has changed my life for the better. I have more patience than ever before, and more understanding that we have to cherish every blessing we have. I am blessed to have Morgan in my life, and I would not change her in any way. Also, I am blessed with three other children who love their sister and embrace her diagnosis.

Of course, I grieve for the child she could have been without autism, but I also recognize the amazing child she is with it. When I drop her off at daycare and another two year old says “Hi, what’s your name?” I am reminded that Morgan only occasionally says “Momma” and mostly babbles without words. I know that she may never be fully verbal and will probably be in special education classes in school. The odds are she will never live independently. When she becomes excited or upset she will flap her arms uncontrollably. She easily becomes overwhelmed to where she has to drop to her knees and suck on her fingers. She is an extremely picky eater, like most people who have autism, and she has trouble sleeping at times. But I do not dwell on the “can’ts” and the “nevers.” I focus on the “cans.”

Morgan transformed from completely nonverbal with little eye contact to a bright child who babbles constantly. She will hold a pig and say “oink oink.” She will hold a cow and say “mooooo.” She also has a sheep, which says “baaaa.” She holds these animals to a toy hay bale to make them eat. She now waves bye-bye on occassion, and she has used some of the sign language she has learned. She will make a spider sign when she wants to sing “Itsy bitsy spider.” And she will pull her sisters’ hair if they get too close. She will run to her daddy when it is time to pray, and she will come crawl in bed with us in the middle of the night.

Morgan thrives in her therapy and learns quickly. And I can’t thank her therapists enough for taking the time to work with her, to help her become the person she was meant to be. Early intervention is key to successfully living with autism, and Morgan was fortunate enough to be able to experience that.

I watched a video of a speech by Temple Grandin, who has her doctorate’s degree and is a published author … and who also has autism. HBO recently made a movie about her, which I have yet to see. Watching the real Temple give a speech about her life with autism – and her successes since her diagnosis – gives me such hope that there is a place in this world for my daughter’s beautiful mind.

I sympathize with the people glaring at us in church because Morgan is holding her toy cow in the air and yelling “moooooo!” But I am not sorry, because to me there is not a more beautiful sound in the world than my autistic daughter finally finding her voice and saying words. Even if it’s barnyard talk.

On World Autism Awareness Day,  remember autism, and the millions of families affected by this spectrum disorder. Research is continuing so that hopefully, someday, more can be understood about this mystifying disabiliity. Until then, I will continue to grin at my daughter while she talks to her farm animals, being extremely proud of all she has accomplished at such a young age.

“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 editors@autismspeaks.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.

“Temple Grandin” Premiere in Los Angeles

February 3, 2010 1 comment
Several years ago, I heard Temple Grandin deliver the keynote presentation at a conference. My son, Andrew, was probably seven at the time. He had been diagnosed with autism at three and a half and was progressing well, but it was much too early in this journey to know what he would be able to accomplish. And for all my wife and I had learned already there was still much to discover.

Many parents viewed Temple as a model of inspiration, the independent adult we all hoped our children would become. We listened rapturously as she recalled her childhood, not speaking until she was four, and how vividly she could talk about certain subjects. I remember her saying that when something as simple as a ship was mentioned she had to visualize a specific ship that she had heard about in order for it to become concrete. Then pictures of many ships passed through her mind. She also talked about how the concept of love was difficult. Although she read about it and understood what it was intellectually, emotionally it was foreign to her.

I have not read her books but I was excited to attend a preview screening of the “Temple Grandin” movie premiering on HBO this weekend. It was beautiful for many reasons, and not always easy to watch. Claire Danes was incredible in capturing Temple’s mannerisms, fears, frustrations and ultimate optimism. Director Mick Jackson managed the wonderful feat of vividly bringing the audience inside Temple’s mind. When she was over-stimulated by light or sound, it seemed as though we were having the same experience. When the film was over many people remarked how much they enjoyed it and how moved they were. Definitely have tissues nearby.

Just as impressive for what Temple has done and represents, it may be more phenomenal when the time period is factored in. This year, Temple will be 63.  We talk about the continued need to raise awareness now, but consider for a moment the immense challenges, obstacles and prejudices both she and her mother had to endure over 55 years ago. In the film Temple’s mother (an excellent job by Julia Ormond) is told to put her in an institution and essentially forget about her. The teasing Temple endured at boarding school and how she was misunderstood in college were painful to observe on the screen. And even after earning her degree she faced immense sexism in the overwhelmingly male-dominated cattle industry of the 1970’s.

We have it so much easier with more people knowing about autism now, but it’s still not enough.

A few months ago I was at a fundraising and community event for another autism organization. I was at our booth telling people what Autism Speaks does when a young man who was a volunteer for the day walked up and asked, “What is autism?” He was probably in his late teens, helping out at an event about autism and didn’t know what it was. I point this out not to castigate him, but it was a pivotal moment for me.

For the progress we’ve made, we still need to keep moving forward. I work with and constantly meet parents whose children are at various points along the autism spectrum. They are stressed. They can’t do it alone – and they shouldn’t have to. With the numbers constantly rising, it’s obvious that autism is not the domain of just parents and the devoted professionals who work with them.

I hope that people not directly affected by autism who watch “Temple Grandin” take away multiple messages, with one of the key ones being how serious an issue it is. Please don’t be just an observer. Take action. And for those of us who are directly affected, keep letting others know.

This guest post is written by Phillip Hain, Executive Director of Autism Speaks’ Los Angeles Chapter.

If you have a story you wish to share about your personal experience with autism, please send it to editors@autismspeaks.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.


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