The Black Balloon Sunday January 16th 2011

I just watched a movie called Tru Confessions. It’s about a teenage girl with a twin brother who has some form of mental retardation. I didn’t see the beginning but it seemed to me to be autism. She does a documentary for a competition and decides to do it about her brother, coming to terms with his differences in the process. I sat and watched with tissues in hand, it’s obviously made to be a weepy film anyway but of course it hits harder when you can relate in a personal way.

Tonight the movie The Black Balloon is on. This is a movie set in the 70’s or 80’s about a family with a teenage autistic son. It’s taken from the brother’s perspective and is a brilliant movie though very in your face. I went to see it with some of my HAGS girls (an autism support group) and one of our aides and friends from school. We sat with our boxes of tissues and cried through much of the movie. We also at times were rolling with laughter. Others in the theatre were silent through this, clearly horrified that we were daring to laugh at the poor autistic boy shown on the screen. The thing was that we could all relate. I especially had tears rolling down my face at one particular scene involving needing to go to the toilet when walking down the street. I wont spoil it for you if you haven’t seen it yet. I’ll just say that I’ve been horrified at the fact that Beth has at the park just dropped her dacks and weed before, also that when she needs to go, she often pulls her pants down before she starts running, even at school. Of course this makes it quite difficult to get there quickly! Paul has now learnt the hard way that you ALWAYS make sure that everybody has been to the toilet before you leave the house.

Another thing I love about the movie is that Toni Collette plays the mum. Now I’ve been told (and not just a few times either) that I bear a striking resemblance to her. I’m not silly, I get that at the moment it probably means as Muriel but hey, I’ll still take it. I’ve joked that when this blog gets made into a screenplay that Toni can play the part of me. She did an excellent job in The Black Balloon.

If you haven’t seen it, in the words of Molly, do yourself a favour. It’s a different setting, quite horrific in the sense that it makes you realise how lucky we are that our kids are born now and not back then. Us parents bitch and moan about schooling for our kids and funding but if you had an autistic kid born 30 odd years ago they usually went into a home. They certainly weren’t integrated into mainstream schools as they are now. It shows the attitudes of the ‘normal’ kids in the movie. Not that we don’t get that now but kids these days are more used to differences than they were then. It does however portray a brutally truthful reality to parenting a kid with autism. I don’t think I’m going to watch it again. I found it a fantastic yet draining movie for me, it’s showing my life at it’s rawest and brought to home how hard it is, and not just for the parents. But if you haven’t seen it it’s well worth watching. And for those of you who don’t have kids with autism, it’s almost a must. It shows how it really is, not how you see our kids but how we see them. I can promise you you’ll need the tissues.

About Sarah

Mother of an autistic child wanting to write about my personal experiences
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