A couple of months ago, I received an email from two women -- Jen Greenstreet & Emily Eckels -- who have an amazing film company called Just Like You films that explores how to help children and adults to understand different health challenges for children. The mantra of their company is When You Know Me, You Can Understand Me, You Can Accept Me. Teaching and fostering empathy for children and adults is something I believe in passionately, and these films do it brilliantly. Jen and Emily contacted me because they had read about our family story in a magazine and are developing a new film about facial anomalies.
Over the course of these last few weeks, we have discussed several ways that we can collaborate together. Although they are both based in Kansas City and I am in Greenwich, through our conversations, we realized that we actually are personally connected, and my husband Mat has worked with some of their family and friends in business. It is truly a small world.
I have written before about how opening up and sharing your story is an extremely scary, but also liberating feeling. Some people can only tell one or two people about their challenges, some people go out and tell their stories via books, films, speeches, and more. Whatever your voice, we all need someone to share with and listen to us. I feel very fortunate to have been introduced to these two women and am looking forward to helping them develop their new film. None of this would have happened if my husband and I had not decided to tell our story five years ago and share it.
Today is World Autism Awareness Day. I'm sure there is not one of us today that does not know a family who has a family member with autism. The reach of autism is far and wide and yet, deeply misunderstood. It is an exhausting, frustrating, and at times, heartbreaking challenge for families.
It is not something any of us can understand unless you are living through it. None of us. Why? Because autism doesn't take a break, autism doesn't know when you are tired or it is a holiday. Autism doesn't know how much therapy costs or how hard it is to explain to another child. Autism can't be generalized or put in a box. Families who have a member with autism are just like you. They also have great joy, silliness, eat too many cookies, like the sun on their face and laugh. Autism is different for each and every family that experiences it.
Just Like You Films (www.justlikeyoufilms.org) attempts to explain autism through the eyes of these children and families without generalizing it, they are asking you to see each individual for who they are as a person. 'Don't Call Him the Autistic Kid' is one of the most poignant parts of this short film and something we should all consider.
Link to Autism Video Audition
At a time when there is a lot of discussion about acceptance in our country, I ask you to ask yourself what acceptance means to you. How do you treat others that are different from you? How do you open your heart to others? A few years ago I wrote one of my first blogs about a common encounter I had in a restaurant with my children by another child. A small child made an everyday lunch unbearable for my son. The mother initially treated us like 'well, it's not my fault you're different.' It's no one's fault someone is different, how you treat someone who is different though is 100 percent your choice.
Please watch and share this film with your family and/or friends on autism or their films on Down's Syndrome, burn victims or more. By sharing and viewing these films, you are doing something important. You are educating and spreading empathy. A message we can always use.
Just Like You Autism Film Link
Have a great day and Happy Easter & Passover.
View JLY films on our YouTube channel and see “behind the scenes” photos and more on our Facebook page.