Is autism a disease, a disorder, or is it something else? Is it a physical problem or a psychiatric one? Is it not a problem at all? Is it caused by mercury poisoning? Is it caused by other chemicals in our environment? “Loving Lampposts” explores all of these issues, and more. Medical doctors, other health practitioners, parents of autistic children, autistic adults, all express their individual points of view in the film.
If you’re seeking definitive answers about autism, this documentary may frustrate you because it doesn’t offer that kind of resolution. The closest you’ll get to an answer is to decide who you agree with and go from there.
A consistent thread through the movie is the struggle that each parent has dealt with in coming to terms with the condition, and the love these parents show for their autistic children. That in itself made the film worthwhile for me.
I learned some fascinating things, too. A grown woman with autism can speak only by typing her words into a voice simulation device. On seeing her, our first impulse might be to decide that she is “intellectually challenged.” We couldn’t be more wrong: Her IQ tests in the genius range. We learn of an adult who is apparently not autistic, but who was so as a child. He is now an articulate musician.
The broader message the film offers is that through love and acceptance we can learn from, and find peace in, the circumstances of our lives. This movie is definitely worth watching.