My older daughter Rose and I watched the movie Temple Grandin, starring Claire Danes as Temple, on DVD the other night.
Temple Grandin may be the best-known person with autism in the world. She's a professor of animal science, a wildly-successful designer of livestock handling equipment, and also an author & lecturer on autism. I had the privilege of hearing her speak in the spring of 2010 at the Autism Society of Wisconsin annual conference. (And I got to meet her and get her autograph!)
Rose was fascinated. Very impressed to see Temple's signature on my copy of The Way I See It, inscribed "To [JoyMama]." Amazed at how Claire Danes, whom she'd seen as Beth in the movie Little Women, could become this completely different person. (Temple was amazed too -- as she said at the conference talk, "Claire Danes became me in a way that was really weird!")
Joy wandered in and out of the room as we watched, but Rose was engaged with the movie all the way.
She wondered whether Joy sees the world in any of the picture-flashes that portrayed Temple's thinking, or the superimposed architectural designs.
In the scene where Temple's mother is told of the autism diagnosis and advised to put her daughter in an institution, Rose asked questions and then made the connection with the Where's Molly? story we saw on TV a year ago.
She was distressed by the way Temple's classmates treated her, and shared that she'd seen kids make fun of Joy at school a couple of times. But she allowed as how she gets teased from time to time herself. I pointed out that when Temple was in school, and even when I was in school, kids with developmental disabilities simply didn't get to go to the same schools that typically-developing kids attended, if they even got to go to school at all.
Rose thought about that. "It's so lucky..." she said...
and I expected her to go on to say how lucky Joy is that she gets to go to school with everyone else...
"...for Joy's class that they get to know her and have her in school with them!"