I certainly never imaged my first post of 2012 to be like the one I am writing but sometimes, well sometimes you just got to step forward and call someone out. I only wish I had a way to really get this post to Mr. Germain. If anyone reads this and feels as strongly as I do and has a way to get this to him, please let me know.
I was sitting at my desk in my warm and cozy office, slippers on and a hot cup of coffee in my hands just leisurely trying to catch up on my emails and postings and other blog posts that I tend to read. I tell you this so that you understand, it was not my intention to get all mad and confrontational. I was relaxed until I read this blog post at the Autism Key website by Michelle Gonzalez. She was commenting on the new Tom Hanks film that is coming out called Extremely LOUD Incredibly CLOSE. Although the movie never comes out and says it, the main character has Aspergers. For this reason, and well the simple fact that I love Tom Hanks, I have already made a mental note to want to see the movie myself. So I read the post with much interest. And then my heart stopped when I got to a quote that came from David Germain who is an AP writer. I could not believe what I read and immediately did a search to find the actual article hoping that some how the quote had been taken out of context, but nope… Ms. Gonzalez was accurate in her sighting of it. I will save you some time and just give you the quote here for you to understand what I am talking about:
Newcomer Thomas Horn, the 13-year-old star who was cast after the filmmakers saw him on a “Jeopardy!” kids episode, is a mixed bag, holding his own among the adult actors but, through no fault of his own, forced to behave with excessive shrillness much of the time.
That’s because his character, Oskar Schell, may or may not have Asperger’s syndrome, a mild form of autism (his medical tests, we’re told, were inconclusive). You make allowances in life for people you encounter with autism, but spending two hours with a fictional character possessing autistic qualities can be grating.
Oh My God, did he just say he makes allowances in life for autistic people? How nice of him. And then he goes a step further and becomes even more offensive by saying that spending two hours with an autistic person can be grating! As if my son and all the others like him don’t have enough challenges in life now we have someone like Mr. Germain a so-called professional Associated Press Writer putting in writing that he finds autistic traits to be annoying.I am in shock. How did this review get published is what I want to know?
Michelle Gonzalez wrote the following in her blog post: “Had Germain made such statements about a movie character’s race or sexual orientation, I’m sure we’d be hearing a lot more outcry. But unfortunately, other than a few Web sites and autism message boards, there has been little fanfare made about the AP writer’s sentiments. Perhaps Germain “makes allowances” for those with autism in real life, but I refuse to do the same for his ignorance and asinine comments.”
I agree Michelle and could not have said it better myself! So here is what I ask of you, my readers. Please please re post this and Michelle’s post to everyone and everywhere. My hope is that if enough of us start sharing this, well someone important hopefully will see it. If nothing else I think that Mr. Germain owes the entire autism community an apology.
We fight every day to break down walls and preconceived ideas about our loved ones. We do our best to ignore the dirty looks and nasty comments from onlookers who don’t see the whole picture. We wake up every day with the hope that today, today will be the day that my son or daughter, sister or brother… our loved ones, will be accepted, understood or at least tolerated by the world. Mr. Germain, how dare you insult my son and those like him. He may speak in monotone, have quirky behaviors and be sensitive to outside stimuli but he has more empathy and compassion then you obviously will ever have. An apology Mr. Germain is the least you can do.
Below is a clip from the movie. I certainly don’t find the boy’s voice grating! In fact, he reminds me of someone special to me!