Changing Perceptions: A Response to “Wretches and Jabberers”

May 24, 2011
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Several weeks ago I wrote an entry about the documentary film Wretches and Jabberers. I unfortunately missed the viewing that I discussed in that entry, but was so excited when it played again last week. This time I made sure to be there!

The film itself was really good, the story of two men with autism who traveled the world to educate the public, connect with other people who have autism, and change perceptions. I was challenged. I found myself face-to-face with my own misconceptions that I didn’t even know I held. I, once again, had to re-assess and re-frame the ways in which I think about disability. I am finding over and over that this is a continual process for me, one that requires frequent conversation, different experiences, and intellectual challenge.

My favorite part of the evening, however, was not the movie itself or the ways in which I was personally challenged, but the conversation that began once the movie ended. It turns out that I was not the only one who was challenged by the ideas presented in the movie. Everyone I was with was also challenged – but in different ways. Many of my friends who came with me have only had minimal exposure to people with disabilities and the idea of self-advocacy is quite new to them. They left with a new understanding of disability, the ways in which people with disabilities can be a part of society when given the opportunity, and the societal barriers to inclusion (attitudinal, social, physical, etc.) they face.

The producers and actors did, in fact, achieve their goal. They challenged dominant ideas and changed perceptions. I can confidently say for myself and the others that I saw the movie with, the experience was invaluable. Change is slow, there is no doubt. But efforts of this nature and others with similar goals can indeed be effective. My experience and those of my friends is evidence and can, hopefully, serve as fuel for the fire of continued effort, no matter how disappointing and overwhelming it can be sometimes. Change does happen, even if just one small step at a time.

Author: Carolyn