Last month, I was asked to support a viewing of a Japanese film about autism, “Drive Me to the Sea.” I was so excited that the Japanese community was interested in autism awareness that I threw myself into promoting the film without knowing the details of the story. I was doubtful that the film would portray autism appropriately (by my standards). Upon viewing it, it does. Everyone on the ASD spectrum is different but this film thoughtfully connects all of us affected by autism. The screenwriter, Kuniaki Yamashita, was a parent of a young man on the spectrum and a core advocate of people affected by ASD.
Jun, the young man with ASD, loves everything about cars and driving. He has very limited language and independence and lives at home with his family. There are scenes of what life is like for the family; his mother, his brother and their ties to the disability community. A young woman who knows nothing about autism gives a ride to Jun because he reminds her of someone in her past. Jun loves everything about cars and vans, so of course, he got in the car and the adventure begins.
The film is about autism awareness, education, advocacy but more importantly acceptance; acceptance of behaviors and inclusion into the mainstream community. The film gives the autistic person a place in our community.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we were able to gain acceptance for our children in the global community? The film was a glimpse of promising possibilities.