Neurotypical and What's Next

Documentary Neurotypical now available on Amazon

The 2013 documentary Neurotypical is now available on Amazon. Produced by my wife Linda and myself, it was directed, filmed and edited by our son, Adam Larsen. Three years in the making, this documentary focuses on autism from the perspective of individuals on the spectrum. It presents the lives of three individuals on the spectrum: a preschooler, a teenager, and a recently-diagnosed adult. The film includes related commentary by other autistics sharing their personal experiences during similar periods of their lives. When first released, Neurotypical was screened at several festivals within the United States, Canada and Europe, as well as for fundraising events throughout North Carolina in support of the TEACCH program. More recently, it was a featured documentary broadcast on PBS’ POV (Point of View program).

What we consider to be our biggest success, however, is that it has been generally embraced by the autistic community as being an authentic and meaningful portrayal of autism as experienced by those on the spectrum.

The idea for Neurotypical had its beginnings in our living room in Asheville, North Carolina where, over the years during my work with the NC TEACCH program, we became friends with many individuals on the spectrum. We chose to take this film in a different direction from the documentaries on autism we had seen, many of which dealt with the sensationalism of either the very gifted individuals or the very severe. We observed that the majority of these films were narrated by neurotypicals--people not on the autism spectrum--and we wanted to hear from autistics, describing their own experiences. The filming and interviewing took place as time and money allowed. We did not know at that time that the project would involve editing over 80 hours of footage and take over three years to complete. The final version of Neurotypical went through two edits: One down to 1.5 hours for theaters and then another to the final 52 minute version for television which is now available for streaming on Amazon, or for purchase on DVD from Centering on Children: ron@shoeboxtasks.com.

90 Per Cent

working title of our next film project

With approximately 90% of the autistic population unemployed, our next documentary project begins by asking the question, why this is so? Because of these important friendships begun years ago, we are aware of the vast, untapped resource of talented and potentially dedicated employees who are unable to find work because of their autism diagnosis.  Or, if they do find work, they are vulnerable to employers who may not understand their needs, and the situation ultimately does not work out.  With examples of the challenges and successes of bringing the individual on the spectrum into the world of a neurotypical employer's business, we will explore ways to make this a win, win situation for all. Like our previous film Neurotypical, we will endeavor to put a voice to this underemployed population--what it has to offer;  what challenges it needs to overcome; and what situations in the work force result in the greatest success.

If you have a story to tell (success or otherwise), please let us hear from you. This documentary is in the seed stage and will take on a form and life of its own as it develops. Our ultimate hope is that it will raise awareness about the very difficult picture that is currently before us, and hopefully contribute to improving the playing field for all.

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