If you'll allow me to get personal for a moment (not like I've already shared my entire boring life here on more than several occasions), but this is a subject I feel very strongly about. See, my wife's little brother -- which would make him my brother-in-law -- is autistic. He's 15-years-old, and unable to effectively communicate -- to talk, to play, to sing, to dance -- with those around him, without outside assistance. Currently, he lives in a special needs home, and he's allowed to travel back to my in-law's house for overnight trips on occasion. To raise an autistic child is a challenge most parents would rather not take on, and I've seen it take its toll on my wife's family over the years, especially when he was still living at home. Therapists and nurses were constantly passing through a revolving front door, while everyone did their best to remain optimistic and enjoy the boy's spirit, rather than trap themselves within a series of questions that don't necessarily have any answers.
Most people don't know how to act around an autistic child -- do we hide, do we try not to stare, do we politely smile, do we acknowledge his or her presence, do we change the conversation -- when the answer is so painfully obvious: just be yourself. This past Christmas Day, as my wife and I were leaving, my brother-in-law approached me and shook my hand for the first time. On the surface, it seems like the simplest of gestures -- however, it was a monumental moment in our lives and, perhaps, the greatest present I received this holiday season.
With that said, the Sundance Film Festival will host the world premiere of Autism Every Day, a new documentary directed by Lauren Thierry that delves deep inside the lives of several families struggling to raise autistic children. Pic was funded by Autism Speaks and each screening will be followed by a special autism awareness panel featuring the filmmakers and the parents who appear in the film. According to a press release, there are three screenings currently set up (with the world preem taking place on January 21) and Autism Every Day will screen out of competition. For more information on the film, as well as on Autism Speaks, check out their official website. Oh, and if you're planning on attending Sundance this year, be a sport, stop by for a screening and support a good cause.