Friday, September 18, 2015

Jesse “Speeks,” a Documentary about a Young Man with Autism, Will be Screened at the Central Library on Monday, September 28

The Central Library will host a screening of the short documentary film Jesse “Speeks" on Monday, September 28, 2015, at 6:00 p.m. in the Arrington Auditorium. The idea for the 13-minute documentary began when writer and filmmaker Sonya Mitchell noticed a young man, Jesse Miller, joyously greeting all of the people he encountered at the Trussville YMCA. Intrigued by his behavior, Ms. Mitchell later learned that Jesse suffers from autism, a brain disorder that makes communicating and socializing with others difficult. Although originally intended to be a story about one exceptional autistic person, the documentary evolved into an awareness piece about autism. The documentary premiered at Birmingham’s Sidewalk Film Festival in August 2014.

What exactly is autism? Described by the Autism Society of Alabama’s website, autism is a “brain disorder affecting communication and social interactions.” The signs often include repetitive behavior, impairments in communication both verbal and nonverbal, and socialization difficulties. What makes autism so difficult to diagnose and treat is that it is not a single disorder but rather a spectrum, which means that it affects different people in different ways. The health care community now uses the term “Autism Spectrum Disorder” (ASD) to describe the wide variety of autistic conditions.

Some facts and statistics about autism as of 2014:
 • About 1% of the world’s population has ASD and it occurs in all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups
• In 2000 the rate of those with ASD was 1 in 150; by 2010 it was 1 in 68
• More than 3.5 million Americans live with ASD
• More common in males (1 in 42) than in females (1 in 189)
• 35% of young adults have not had a job or received postgraduate education after leaving high school

Many resources are available locally for those wanting to learn more about autism:

 • Autism Society of Alabama 
  • Alabama’s Early Intervention Program (children under the age of three): 1-800-543-3098 
  • Office of Special Education (over the age of three): 1-800-392-8020 
 • Autism Spectrums Disorders Clinic @ UAB Civitan-Sparks Clinics: 205-934-5471 or 1-800-822-2472

 • Autism ALABAMA

Autism Society

 • Alabama Interagency Autism Coordinating Council 

CDC Homepage for Autism Spectrum Disorders 

Books and DVDs about ASD are available in all of the public libraries in Jefferson County (

Here is a representative sample of titles from the Birmingham Public Library’s Business, Science and Technology Department:

Autism : the Scientific Truth About Preventing, Diagnosing, and Treating Autism Spectrum Disorders-- and What Parents Can Do Now by Robert Melillo  

The Myth of Autism : How a Misunderstood Epidemic is Destroying Our Children by Michael J. Goldberg  

Solving Sleep Problems in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders : a Guide for Frazzled Families by Terry Katz, Ph.D. & Beth Malow, M.D., M.S  

Everyday Activities to Help Your Young Child with Autism Live Life to the Full: Simple Exercises to Boost Functional Skills, Sensory Processing, Coordination and Self-care by Debra S. Jacobs and Dion E. Betts  

The Autism Enigma  (DVD)

The Vaccine War (DVD)

Aut-eurobics : Autism Movement Therapy: Empowering Your Child Through Music & Movement (DVD)

Lynda C. Tidmore
Business, Science & Technology & Social Sciences
Central Library

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