This guest post is by filmmaker Jen Medvin, mother of twins, one which has an ASD diagnosis. Medvin is working on a short film titled, "Little Hero" about her twins' unique relationship. Watch the kickstarter trailer for her film below.
My six-year-old son, Xander, becomes frustrated when the power on his tablet runs out. Instead of verbalizing his feelings, he will whine and stomp around the room. When this happens, I try to soothe him by asking him what he needs. Sometimes he engages, however most of the time he remains non-verbal. When his frustration increases, he typically runs to his twin sister, Avery, for comfort. Avery wraps her arms around him and gives him a tight squeeze. Almost immediately, Xander lets out a deep sigh and a calmness overcomes him.
At 18-months-old, Xander began to display typical signs of autism (arm flapping, toe walking, lack of eye contact) and was subsequently diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Avery was also diagnosed with autism at this time, but she progressed quickly and the signs of autism all but disappeared. She has been in a neurotypical class for a couple of years. At times, it almost seemed as if she was imitating Xander’s actions.
When the twins were younger, Avery used to act as interpreter for Xander. Because he is non-verbal, they would share a “look” and then Avery would tell me that Xander wanted “juice” or was “hungry.” He would flap his arms when he was excited and then she would flap back in response.
After watching Avery and Xander together, I started to realize that the twins share an exceptional bond. Avery has never seen her brother as being a special needs child. Instead, she actually sees him as a superhero. She believes he has “superpowers” and is very good at “helping people.” I realized that this touching example of sibling love and understanding was so beautiful it had to be shared.
"Little Hero" is a documentary about Xander’s autism as seen through his sister’s eyes. In this film, Avery explains their unique and beautiful relationship from her perspective.
From the beginning of production, Marcus McDougald (co-director, producer) and I shared the same vision for this project. We have been in production since February and are close to completing the filming process. We started the Kickstarter campaign, not only to raise funds, but to help spread autism awareness as well. This project is a labor of love. Working with Marcus and my children has been a wonderful experience.
I believe in this project and hope that others will see its value as well. I feel it is important to continue to spread autism awareness and appreciate the chance to shed light on autism from a rare and personal perspective.