I just finished watching an incredible DVD titled JJ’s Journey, which walks viewers through Lori Ciccarelli‘s son, Jeremy’s journey with autism. The DVD is 110 minutes long, and it is definitely worth watching! Everyone who helped to make the documentary what it came to be should be very proud of themselves for helping to educate others about autism. When watching this DVD viewers get to hear many different perspectives, from many different people, such as parents, teachers, school staff, family friends, therapists, and Jeremy himself. While watching JJ’s Journey I learned something that I did not know much about, neurofeedback therapy.
Introduction to a Variety of Interventions
This documentary gives viewers a “taste” of many different tools and interventions that can be used to help individuals with autism, including early intervention, occupational therapy (OT), medication, social skills therapy, neurofeedback therapy and more. I enjoy the fact that JJ’s Journey touches upon and covers many different interventions, rather than focusing on just one method or intervention.
Throughout JJ’s Journey, many different strategies were used in the classroom. After watching this documentary, you will have some ideas that can be shared at your child’s next IEP meeting or with your child’s school.
- For example, when Jeremy was young he liked dinosaurs, so his teacher at school used his special interest of dinosaurs to help him learn. She ordered puzzles, books, and toys that were all about dinosaurs. Jeremy loved all of these items. At first he preferred to be by himself, but eventually his teacher was able to have him work with other children.
- Another example of when school staff used Jeremy’s special interest is when the school psychologist noticed that Jeremy was nervous and told him to bring his favorite Calvin and Hobbes book with him to his room. They looked at the book together before the psychologist began to work with Jeremy.
When trying to teach an individual with autism it is important that the teacher consider using material that reflects the individual with autism’s special interest. It is usually not hard to do, and is worth it in the long run.
Jeremy also struggled sometimes in school. He expressed himself best through drawing and art. This was the easiest way for him to communicate to others. One time a picture that he drew got him in trouble, because the individuals who saw his picture perceived his drawing differently than he had intended. He just wanted the drawing to show that he was sad and angry, he did not intend for the drawing to open a whole can of worms and have people thinking unusual, threatening, or bad thoughts about him. This is important to remember when working with individuals with autism; always ask them what something means or why they did what they did before yelling or punishing them, because the reason may be totally different from what you were thinking. Taking the perspective of others and theory of mind are often hard for individuals with autism.
JJ’s Journey also talks about Jeremy’s challenges with social skills and sensory integration. I enjoyed that the DVD showed Jeremy receiving OT services when he was older, because this shows people watching the DVD that sensory differences do not go away with age and still need to be treated, even when the person with autism is a teenager and then an adult.
I could see Jeremy grow, blossom, and flourish throughout the DVD. He had wonderful people supporting him along the way. At the end of the DVD, Jeremy was 18 years old and had grown so much and learned so many skills since the beginning of the DVD. The documentary was made over a three-year time period and Jeremy came a very long way in just three short years.
Great Job to Jeremy and his mom, Lori, for making such a wonderful documentary, and thank you for sharing your journey with autism with others!