Humanities Film Series teaches about living with Autism

The most recent of the Humanities Film Series was a presentation by Nick Pentzel, the director of “Outside/Inside,” in Myers Auditorium.

“Outside/Inside,” is a film attempting to give people an inside look into the world of Autism. The film was made in 2002, has received four awards, and is shown at many colleges across the United States. “Outside/Inside” has even earned the high recognition of being showed at Disabilities Festivals across the World.

Pentzel lives outside of Philadelphia and is currently pursuing a Communications Major at Delaware County Community College. Although he is affected by his affliction of autism, he was still able to communicate to the audience through the use of Facilitated Communication (FC), which is where Pentzel has an assistant hold a board with letters and key phrases in front of him. Pentzel has his assistant hold back his hand for him so he will put a lot of effort toward which letter or phrase he desires to press because a common obstacle for anyone suffering from Autism is that their body does not always follow the directions passed down by their mind.

Pentzel shed some light for the audience into the mind of someone with Autism through the two films he presented and his Powerpoint presentation that provided some background for the audience to set up the two videos.

The first thing that is essential for any comprehension of living with Autism is the definition of the actual disability. Autism is a spectrum disorder that affects people differently and inhibits or enhances their specific abilities in different ways. Autism affects their sensations, motor control, volition, focus, and the processing of input and output.

Most people battling Autism have a higher level of anxiety and have difficulty placing items into the background. Pentzel has developed two coping strategies for this problem.

The first coping mechanism is refereed to as “Spotting” and is when they move their head back and forth from left to right quickly, but focusing on one object.

The second mechanism is where they use their peripheral vision to look at the object they are trying to focus on. A good video that demonstrates the difficulty that Autism afflicted people have focusing is the video “How to Boil Water the Fast Way” by Amanda Bags on Youtube. After the power point presentation was over, “Outside/Inside” made its premiere at Millersville University. “Outside/Inside” is trying to provide insight into Pentzel’s life as someone who is mute and suffering from autism.

The problem that many autistic afflicted people encounter is that the world treats them as though they are children, and as their bodies still may resemble children, their minds are just as capable as a full grown adult, and often times smarter than your average adult.

People with Autism react differently to situations than many people would due to their body not correctly responding to their mind. Pentzel wants to eventually become a writer and advocate of Autistic people across the world, and to spread the message that Autism is not the person, but merely the filter through which he sees life.

The second video is called “Autism is a World” written by Sue Rubin and directed by Gerardine Qurzburg. Rubin is majoring in history at the age of thirty one. Her parents presumed she was retarded until she was thirteen and received her first Facilitated Communication Device. Rubin exhibited a lot of abusive behavior towards herself when she was younger, but as she got older she grew out of her abusive behavior.

Rubin was very well treated and accepted in society, and with the help of a constant helper, she is succeeding in life. Rubin has created this video as an inspiration for people dealing with autism all over the world that they too can succeed at life. In the end, Pentzel wants to spread the message that autistic people want to be considered competent until proven otherwise.

  • Carole Harrington

    My son, 42, has autism and spent two semesters at a community college using facilitated communication. However, when he enrolled in a psychology class (ironically), he was banned from using FC to take tests and was, therefore, unable to continue going to school. This was approximately 15 years ago when Dr. Douglas Biklin of Syracuse U. initiated the FC movement. Chris now refuses to type unless he has something urgent to say. He was ridiculed and rejected – so he rejects FC and college.

    It is too sad. How did this person manage to overcome this prejudicial barrier at the community college?