Last night I was at a screening of the movie Adam as well as on stage afterwards to discuss the film and take Q& A.
The film Adam is about an electrical engineer in New York City who has Asperger Syndrome and has just recently lost his dad. The movie doesn't introduce Asperger's until maybe 1/3rd of the way through the movie, but the signs are certainly there.
As the movie progressed I was astounded and the similarity between the movie and events in my life. Truly it was haunting and I wonder, even though it is practically impossible, if the director/writer somehow interviewed the people known as Emily and Linda in my book. Because of this I don't know if my review can be unbiased because since the sameness was there I feel my judgment may be a bit skewed.
The movie may be called Adam, but Adam's new neighbor Beth in the movie is just as vital as the person who the movie is named after. Slowly there is a relationship and I am not one to give spoilers so that's the end of where my plot talk goes.
So, was it a good movie? Before I answer that let me say that before the movie there was a small presentation and we were told the movie's director said this, "I wanted to write a character for a movie and not to define a condition." Did the director achieve this? I do think so. However, I say that, "if you've met one person with autism you've only met one person with autism" on a daily basis so I know one depiction won't define now. How would someone unaffiliated with spectrum react? For this question I have no answer.
So again, was it good? I've heard several people say that the plot was boring, or slow, but I have to disagree and my disagreement probably comes from living out situations akin to the movie. Asperger Syndrome was in the movie but it really wasn't the movie. Adam had quirks, but they weren't exaggerated like many other characters in other movies or television shows.
So in the end I think that the writer/director made a good story about one person on the spectrum. If one can view this movie with that in mind I think it is a good story. If one lets this movie define their depiction of the spectrum then perhaps it isn't the best movie to view, but I enjoyed the story despite the haunting similarities between myself and Adam in terms of relationships.
After the movie there was about an hour of discussion and as I was about to be introduced I panicked. Yes, the reason was small, but I was seated in the middle of the row and I couldn't decide which way to exit the row I was seated in. One reason this amplified was I am not used to sharing the stage. That morning I had a three hour presentation at a court building. Of the 150 or so presentations I have done I have not been the sole speaker only twice.
Once I made my decision to go right I approached the stage, but here I didn't know when to actually step on stage. Do I wait until the whole introduction is done? Halfway through? but when was halfway? In terms of anxiety this portion of my day was starting out horribly.
I did make it on stage and sat down in one of the two chairs that they had put out which this too was different for me as I've only been seated twice in all my presentations. When I present I move around a little, I have precision in my steps and gestures with my hands, but now I was seated and did not know how to sit. Also, when one is standing and moving around a bit the lack of eye contact is easier to hide, while seated it was obvious, at least from my perspective.
As I was seated and struggling my coworker, Ann Schad, was introduced and sat to my right. The discussion then began and I said something early, but following that there was a long ago before I said anything. I wanted to though, as there were many stories I could have spoken, but speaking up is something I don't do well, if at all.
My eyes looked down and to the left towards the wall. I would glance back at the moderator every so often just so that there was some sign of life, but the level of discomfort on this stage at this stage of the evening was about as high as I could tolerate. If my discomfort was visible I am fully okay with this as this gave the audience another view point of a person on the spectrum. My "positional warfare" was raging and no matter where I looked or how I sat I was uncomfortable to the point that I wanted to go invisible just for a few seconds so I could feel relief as I was at my limit.
Then, a question was directed my way and I thought about it for a brief second and was able to use a story from one of my ill-fated trips to the mythical place known as the DMV. The question was, "At what point do you tell a person that you have Asperger Syndrome?" and I talked about the time I got frazzled at the DMV and threw my papers on the counter when it was finally my turn and told the lady I was on the spectrum.
After answering that question the audience started asking more and more questions of me and I was able to talk about Emily, and I was able to talk about Kansas and my "positional warfare" slowly vanished. The first ten minutes seemed like five hours and the final 50 minutes went by in a blink. I was able to use my humor and was able to tell my stories and really reach the audience. At the end the moderator mentioned that, "It is good that Aaron has found a way to be comfortable..." and with that I gave a awkward laugh because I didn't care what the second half of that sentence was as the audience got an example of Kansas unlike any other. I went from a awkward sitting, almost shaking person to a story teller and relevant speaker all within that hour. Most audiences will not see the me I deal with out in public; they won't see the "positional warfares" or the look as if I want to say something and yet I stay quiet. This audience though, last night, got to see that and through the anxiety I had and through the visible awkwardness the audience got the full picture of my life and the challenges that are there. I hope I didn't overshadow the movie, but at the end of the day it is a work of fiction and sitting before them was a true version. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to do that last night and I hope I get to do it again because, even though it was difficult for me, the contrast between the first 10 minutes and last 50 minutes is something I feel is beneficial to others because we can be shaky, we can be awkward, but if we get to Kansas we can go from that to an informative chatterbox.