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A review of the HBO autism documentary: How To Dance In Ohio

How To Dance In Ohio

How To Dance In Ohio

So you’ve watched all the autism movies and documentaries and found that some were hard to watch, others you could relate to quite well and some were even enlightening but I can guarantee that you’ve never seen one as powerful as How To Dance In Ohio.


How To Dance In Ohio is a documentary by Alexandra Shiva that follows a group of young autistic adults as they prepare for their first formal dance. They must learn how to ask each other out, how to handle rejection, how to hold a conversation, how to dance and in some cases… share that first kiss. More specifically the film focuses in on 3 young woman ranging from 16 years old to 22 years old as they navigate family life, moving on from their family and having a job.

Release Date

October 26, 2015 on HBO


You get a sense that this film is going in all the right directions as soon as the film starts when the first scene opens with actual autistic people talking to you and expressing to you how they feel. There are no actors, there is no narrator, there is no big production made about what we’re about to see. There is simply a young woman, with autism, in front of the camera, saying “We like to socialize, but it’s just, we don’t know how,” and from that moment, you know you are watching the right movie.

As the viewer, you get to sort of ride along with this group of autistic young adults over the course of 12 weeks as they prepare for what is quite literally, one of the scariest events possible… a formal dance. I know that most people would chuckle at that or think it’s silly because the average person tends to look forward to social functions like that. This film not only explains but shows you very clearly why it is as scary as it is for those many people with autism. While other films with actors and writers try to create the perfect situation or accurately portray what may happen, How To Dance In Ohio has only very real people in very real situations dealing with them as best they can.

The real strength that How To Dance In Ohio has is it’s ability to capture very real moments as they happen, as though there was no camera there at all. When you see these people cry, or behave in some awkward way or when they laugh, you feel how genuine that is. You suddenly realize what all those other autism films have been missing all along. The actors in autism movies have incredible talent and did great work in their respective films but no one can ever truly understand or convey what it’s like to be autistic quite like an actual autistic can.

It isn’t until you’re watching a documentary like How To Dance In Ohio that it hits you; you will never know what it’s like to be autistic without talking to an autistic.

I fear that the only downfall for this film and any film or book that does such a great job of depicting the struggles (and triumphs) of autism is that those who do not have autism directly affecting their lives won’t give it a chance until they have to. How To Dance In Ohio is such a great documentary but it’s also a very powerful tool for autism awareness, showing people what autism is really like in a way that not many other films have been able to. In one scene, Marideth, a 16 year old young lady with autism is talking with her family at the dinner table and all seems great until she just gets up and walks away. She’s still a part of the conversation and everyone is still happy but she’s just up and gone. To the average person, that would seem odd or maybe even rude. But to an autistic or someone close to someone with autism, we totally understand that!

There are so many key moments in How To Dance In Ohio where I feel that most people wouldn’t even notice but as an adult with autism myself as well as the parent of a child with autism, I find myself feeling this very strong bond between myself and those on the screen in those moments. They’re so tiny and likely insignificant to anyone else but I just know that those already within the autism community are going to pick up on them in the biggest way and go back and watch them again because they touch them so deeply. Powerful moments likes these can’t be scripted nor prepared for, they are real moments that can only happen spontaneously from someone that is living in that moment and Alexandra Shiva captures them so perfectly in How To Dance In Ohio.

As I watched, I messaged friends that are also parents of children with autism, telling them that this is going to be a hard film for some people to watch. I relayed some of the things that the autistics within the film would say, such as “Cartoons don’t judge you like people do,” and we all felt our hearts sink together. We know that feeling.

As hard as How To Dance In Ohio is though, it’s also incredibly wonderful to watch with so many moments of laughter, triumph and of course, tears. None of it scripted, none of it prepared for or anticipated.

If I could make every person on Earth who has no prior experience with autism sit down and watch any one movie to understand what my own life with autism has been like, How To Dance In Ohio would be that film.

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The Autism documentary that will completely and totally shock you

A few days ago, I received an email from a man named David, an autistic from France. He sent me a link to a documentary called “The wall or psychoanalysis put to the test for autism“.

The documentary that you are about to see was not filmed in the 1940’s although you will think it was. This film, out of France, was released in September, 2011 by Sophie Robert.

In just 52 minutes, you will see the culmination of 4 years of investigations among psychiatrists and psychoanalysis practitioners in France. Robert met over 40 professionals in putting this documentary together and yet, now that it is complete, 3 of those professionals are suing Robert in an effort to have the movie banned by the court.

I don’t want to give it all away but you will see Autism described as madness, a result of incest (or incestuous needs), a mother’s failing, a father’s failing and so much more. You will see a family that lived with and against this system.

This is a french film which means that English subtitles had to be added and they can be difficult to read at times. But it is still very much worth it to watch this film.

Awareness is more than just making the world understand Autism… it also means putting the past behind us and making things right. And watching this, while it may be painful or frustrating, it is necessary.

(If it does not load, hit reload/refresh or click the link above to view)

Now that you have seen the film, please check out http://www.supportthewall.org/ where every effort is being made to stop the abuse of autistics in France.

Starting to get international attention, they are planning on holding a press conference on January 26th in New York City to launch an international petition against the abuse of autistics in France.

Coincidentally, that is also the date that Sophie Robert will receive her court decision… will the movie be banned or not?

Share this movie. The more people that know the truth, the sooner this “psychoanalysis” can be stopped.

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Loving Lampposts: Living Autistic – This is why you must watch this documentary

If you’ve seen the HBO movie Temple Grandin, based on the woman of the same name, you probably came away quite enlightened. Even “experts” could watch that film and come away feeling like they have a new, or at least enriched, way of looking at Autism.

Any new insight you could gain from that film will seem pale in comparison to what you’ll get from the latest documentary on Autism called Loving Lampposts: Living Autistic.


Loving Lampposts: Living Autistic

Of all the controversies or issues dividing the Autism community, they all boil down to two larger groups. Those that feel that Autism needs to be cured and those that feel that Autism, while a cause for struggle sometimes, is a part of who Autistics are.

Loving Lampposts opens and closes with Sam, an adorable little boy that visits his favourite lampposts in his favourite park every single day. The story in between is a journey taken by Sam’s father, Todd Drezner, in an effort to talk to parents, experts and people with Autism themselves and find out what Autism really is and should it be cured or embraced?

I don’t want to spoil it too much for you but chances are you will enjoy this movie no matter which group you may find yourself in. For the most part, half of the film is talking about curing Autism while the other half is about embracing it but at no point do you ever feel like there’s a break in the flow nor is there anyone trying to convince you to change your opinion.

Curing the Autism Epidemic

In the film, you’ll be introduced to several doctors from Defeat Autism Now (name has recently been changed to the Autism Research Institute) as well as many parents, including Jenny McCarthy, who believe that vaccines and other toxins are responsible for Autism in our children.

Also, along the way, you’ll be introduced to a lot of treatments that they use in treating their children.

Also discussed is the word epidemic and how it’s used in relation to Autism. In this portion of the movie, there’s a really great reference to the FedEx logo, that I feel, is a wonderful eye opener. I’m sure you’ll agree when you see it.

Neurodiversity – Just a Different Way of Being

You’ll also be introduced to several doctors and parents that feel that Autism may or may not be medical, may or may not be psychological… they don’t know.

What they do know is that, and I quote from the movie “I’ve never met one Autistic person I didn’t think was a beautiful person.. just has such a beautiful soul.”

Furthermore, you’ll be introduced to several people with Autism themselves, some are verbal and some are not, they are all different but you will hear from them all. Whether speaking to you or using a device that speaks for them, they share their frustrations and their thoughts on Autism, cures, neurodiversity and more.


If the Temple Grandin movie enlightened you, then Loving Lampposts: Living Autistic will give you far more insight into Autism and the Autism community than you had previously, no matter who you are.

Even the most seasoned Autism advocates may list off all of the things they have already heard before but will still come away from this movie with a broader sense of understanding.

In the end, as the film closes with Sam visiting his favourite lampposts, you get a very real sense of just how much his father has learned from this journey, not just about Autism, but his own son as well.

And with this film, he brings you on that journey so that you too, can learn the same thing for yourself. And you will.

Buy it

Want to buy the movie? Want to get a discount?

From now until May 28, 2011, you can get $3 OFF the Loving Lampposts DVD by entering coupon code: lamppost

Go here to buy the movie now!

Quotes from the Film

Autism is a gift, disguised as a dilemma. – Sharisa Kochmeister (a nonverbal adult with Autism)

They tell me that Sam’s love of lampposts is Autistics behavior and that I should try to get rid of it. I can only say that love is not what makes us sick. It is, we’ve always been told, what makes us human. – Todd Drezner (film maker)

You haven’t got a big enough imagination for what your child could become – Johnny Seitz (adult with Autism)

There is an tremendous amount of emotional power connected with the idea of doing something, of acting. – Roy Richard Grinker (Author of Unstrange Minds)

We’re primed to see Autism more than ever before and despite all the negative hype, this may actually be good news. – Todd Drezner

I think some of the key aspects, what we would today term, as an intensive home based, early intervention program emphasizing music, movement, sensory integration, narration and imitation. They started to imitate me and once they did that, I became aware of them in my environment. – Stephen Shore

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