From the 1950's through the 1970's, autism was widely blamed on cold and…
The Boy Inside
'I have no clue really. Is my voice weird? Do I sound annoying? Am I retarded? That's how kids make me feel. I don't like having Asperger's. I don't like being considered different.' Adam, age 12
Filmmaker Marianne Kaplan tells the personal and often distressing story of her son Adam, a 12-year-old with Asperger Syndrome, during a tumultuous year in the life of their family.
Aspergers is an increasingly common form of autism typically characterized by high intellectual functioning, coupled with emotionally inappropriate behavior and an inability to interact successfully with others. Adam's condition makes life in seventh grade a minefield, a place where he finds himself misunderstood, isolated, and bullied. As he struggles to find a place for himself, he often says or does the wrong thing, and ends up in tears or in fights with other boys. He left his last school after another boy put a knife to his neck. Adam's parents coach him on how to avoid confrontation, and his teachers take extra steps to help the other kids understand him, but his troubles escalate, first at school and then at home.
To learn more about dealing with the challenges of Aspergers, Marianne and Adam attend an international conference, where they share experiences with other AS kids and their parents. Marianne also meets with Dr. Temple Grandin, a renowned animal scientist and author, who herself has autism. But on their return, the conflicts at school continue unabated. These, and the all-consuming stress of Adam's acting out at home, cause friction not only between Adam and his parents and sister, but also between the parents themselves. At a loss for what to do next, they make the agonizing decision to put Adam in foster care for a few days.
As time for high school approaches, his anxious parents worry about the future. Will Adam ever learn how to make and keep friends? How will he handle dating, peer pressure and drugs? Will he eventually be able to survive as an independent adult? In the meantime, will they all survive the challenges of coping with Adam's special needs. This is a rare, first-hand portrait of a troubled year in the life of a family in crisis.