Posts Tagged ‘Chammi Rajapatirana’

Wretches and Jabberers: Best movie of 2011?

November 6, 2010

I just got back from a screening of Wretches and Jabberers at the ICDL conference in Tysons Corner, Virginia and the movie was excellent.   It follows Tracy Thresher and Larry Bissonnette, two men with autism who communicate by typing, as they travel to visit their peers in Sri Lanka, Japan, and Finland. (Full disclosure – I’ve known Chammi Rajapatirana, one of the people with autism who Larry and Tracy visit in the movie, for a long time).

The movie shows that non-verbal or minimally verbal people with autism are extremely intelligent, funny, and full of emotion. Tracy, Larry, and Chammi didn’t learn to type until they were adults.  Tracy and Larry can read some of the words as they type them.  It makes you wonder how many people are overlooked, underestimated and living in isolation because of their lack of verbal ability.

The movie passed the bathroom test.  That’s when you have to go but you wait until the movie is over because you don’t want to miss even a minute of it.

Filmmaker Gerardine Wurzburg, who was nominated for an Academy Award for Autism is a World, may just win one for this movie.

The documentary comes out in the spring of 2011 and the soundtrack will be released in January.  The incredible list of musical talent includes Norah Jones, Carly Simon, Ben Harper, Stephen Stills, and Bob Weir.  My favorite song was by Stills, with solid rhythm and bass guitars behind his distinctive voice, which was played when Tracy and Larry were in Vermont in between globetrotting trips.

EASE: Educate, Advocate, Support, Empower Foundation helps people with autism in Sri Lanka

October 28, 2010

Chammi (right) plays Connect 4 with teachers and a student at the EASE Foundation in Sri Lanka.

EASE: Educate, Advocate, Support, Empower

My friend Chammi Rajapatirana and his parents moved to Sri Lanka four years ago to start the EASE: Educate, Advocate, Support, Empower (EASE) Foundation devoted to providing facilitated communication (FC) and alternative and augmentative communication training for people with speech impairments. The Rajapatiranas started a small learning center that students with disabilities attend for free. Students are first taught to point to objects with the goal of eventually typing without physical support.

Chammi recently attended the premiere of the documentary Wretches & Jabberers: And Stories from the Road, in Burlington Vermont. The movie, directed by Oscar winner and twice Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Gerardine Wurzburg, who also directed Autism is a World, stars FC users Larry Bissonnette and Tracy Thresher as they travel to visit other people who use supported typing in Finland, Japan, and Sri Lanka, where they visited Chammi.  See the trailer here.

One of the young students at the EASE Foundation.

See a video of Chammi typing independently. For an article about FC on Examiner.com, click here.