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What it feels like – focus on autism

This year’s Focus On Ability received around 50 films dealing with what if feels like to live with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). The ASD community – directors, actors, writers and editors – are really making an impression with their stories.

One of the strongest entries was the inspiration for the title of this blog. International documentary entrant Steven Fraser’s What It Feels Like uses hand-drawn animated flipping cards to convey something of, indeed, what it feels like to live daily with ASD.

In just 3.5 minutes, Luca Fox’s Open short film, Act Natural, uses internal narration during a conversation to highlight the challenge of a person with ASD trying to engage in a conversation, gauging what to say and when to say it.

Many of the films centred around ASD use internal narration to help viewers understand what it feels like. In this way, school entry, Autism – One Day At A Time goes through a typical school day for Brianna.

Actor Peter Rosini plays the role of Peter in Sebastian Chan’s Bus Trip, which is just as much about bullying and courage as autism. It’s a great film where the ‘good guys win’!

Courage is one of the themes to come through strongly in this suite of films. Unfortunately, bullying is another. It’s a point well made in Blaxland High School’s Awesomism, a series of interviews in which students with ASD talk straight about trust, making friends, bullying, understanding and even what they think of the word autism.

Another school entry, White Noise, by Matraville Sports High School, demonstrates the intensity of sound, sight and feeling for the protagonist if he can’t use his noise-cancelling headphones during his day to day. It’s awful. He calls them his ‘lifeline’. Check it out.

Finally, Look For Me is effective because it is gentle and simple. In a similar way to White Noise, Miriam Fox (UK) uses sound, but also movement to help us understand the life of a schoolgirl on the autism spectrum.

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Gonzalo Guajardo
One Foot Ahead
Simiyu Barasa
ARC & T-Bay HS Dance Film Clip
ARC Disability Services
Elizabeth Macarthur High School
Flipped... My Body Stopped to Let Me Remember
Touch Compass
A Day in the Life of Gordon
Maitland Grossman High School
The Taekwondo Master
Billy Ptolemy
Music Ignites our Talents
Halinda School
Mr Spielberg Needs our Help
Maitland High School
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