Review: “In A Different Key”

A mother tracks down the first person ever diagnosed with autism, now an elderly man living in rural Mississippi, to learn if his life story holds promise for her own autistic son. Her journey exposes a startling record of cruelty and kindness alike, framed by forces like race, money and privilege – but leads to hope that more communities are learning to have the backs of people on the spectrum.

PBS hits the mark again with another astonishing documentarty of the world of autism. It shows the uniqueness of autism that there are no two people alike and that many factors play into how Americans from all walks of life endure endure their journeys.

As it was with the firsrt known case back in 1940s the Jim Crow south up to today that influence, money and privilage, autistics do have the chance to thrive in their least restrictive environment. From a time when instituttionalization and no school was the norm, it has been those mothers (and fathers) that originated the advocacy and now working to be more inclusive of cutural need and equality regardless of race, gender and other demographic.

Pointed out was the myths both in ineffective quackery research along with misrepresntation by mainstream media. This documentary is not shy of pointing out all the unpleasant barriers that autism families face that is many times hidden from the media along with the barriers that autistic individuls face including those with law enforcement and first responders, particularly the unawareness of autism and how these professionals can misinterpret commands. In fact, this documentary highlights one incident where the individual is maced for noncompliance to police commands.

Some factors in additon to the inequlities is that of suicide, including that autistic individuals are twice at risk of dying by suicide. Females are three times as likely to die by suicide. Moving to employment, it was noted that 70% of autistic adults are underemployed or unemployed.

Personally, In A Different Key makes me acknowlede how lucky I am to be where I am today, uniquely the fact that I am a white man raised from middle class parents in a small town. This is something that I will have to always remember that I can never take for grated and that I have to use my skills and passion for adovating for all those that face autism and mental health challenge, regardless of who they are or the challenges they face while rememberinng those pioneers that one day would be my mother among the pack how doubted the systems and fought for what was best for me. I must remeber that I can never take the things I have in life for granted and In A Different Key opened my eyes.


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