Special Education

Oscar Nomination Spotlights Autism

By Christina A. Samuels — March 08, 2005 1 min read

The Oscar-night paparazzi clearly were aiming for the actress Gwyneth Paltrow, in her pale-pink gown by the designer Stella McCartney.

But captured in a photo, to Ms. Paltrow’s left, was a smiling Sue Rubin, another presence on the red carpet at the Feb. 27 Academy Awards presentation in Hollywood.

Ms. Rubin, a 26-year-old with autism, is the subject of “Autism is a World,” a film that was nominated for best documentary short subject.

“Mighty Times: The Children’s March” won in the category.

A college junior from Whittier, Calif., Ms. Rubin was diagnosed with autism at age 4. She was believed to be mentally retarded until she was given an opportunity to interact with the world through typing on a special keyboard, said Gerardine Wurzburg, the film’s producer and director.

Ms. Rubin is listed as the screenwriter of the film.

Ms. Wurzburg said Ms. Rubin first learned to type with someone holding her hand, a technique known as facilitated communication. She now types independently, with someone holding her keyboard.

“If she walked into your office right now, you would dismiss her,” said Ms. Wurzburg, whose film company is based in Washington. “Then, once you show her the respect that anybody is due, you will see she’s very political, she’s very engaged, and a charming person.”

The method through which Ms. Rubin communicates was introduced in the 1990s. Douglas P. Biklen, a proponent of facilitated communication and a professor of special education at Syracuse University, was one of the film’s co-producers.

Originally hailed as a breakthrough, facilitated communication has also met with deep skepticism. A number of researchers have found that facilitators were guiding the hands of persons with autism. Ms. Wurzburg and Mr. Biklen say that the film is not about the method, but about challenging the perceptions of disability.

“Autism is a World” is scheduled to air on the Cable News Network on May 22 at 8 p.m. Eastern Time.

Related Tags:

A version of this article appeared in the March 09, 2005 edition of Education Week

Events

Student Well-Being Webinar Boosting Teacher and Student Motivation During the Pandemic: What It Takes
Join Alyson Klein and her expert guests for practical tips and discussion on how to keep students and teachers motivated as the pandemic drags on.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
A Holistic Approach to Social-Emotional Learning
Register to learn about the components and benefits of holistically implemented SEL.
Content provided by Committee for Children
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
How Principals Can Support Student Well-Being During COVID
Join this webinar for tips on how to support and prioritize student health and well-being during COVID.
Content provided by Unruly Studios

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Washington Data Processing Representative - (WAVA)
Tacoma, Washington, United States
K12 Inc.
Software Engineer
Portland, OR, US
Northwest Evaluation Association
Proposal Writer
Portland, OR, US
Northwest Evaluation Association
CCLC Program Site Director
Thornton, CO, US
Adams 12 Five Star Schools

Read Next

Special Education What Biden's Pick for Ed. Secretary Discussed With Disability Rights Advocates
Advocates for students with disabilities want Biden to address discipline and the effects of COVID-19 on special education.
2 min read
Miguel Cardona, President-elect Joe Biden's nominee for Secretary of Education, speaks after being introduced at The Queen Theater in Wilmington, Del., Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2020, as Biden, right, and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, look on.
Miguel Cardona, President-elect Joe Biden's nominee for Secretary of Education, speaks after being introduced at The Queen Theater in Wilmington, Del., Dec. 23, 2020, as Biden, right, and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, left, look on.
Carolyn Kaster/AP
Special Education Schools Struggled to Serve Students With Disabilities, English-Learners During Shutdowns
The needs of students with IEPs and English-language learners were not often met after the pandemic struck, says a federal report.
3 min read
Young boy wearing a mask shown sheltering at home looking out a window with a stuffed animal.
Getty
Special Education How Will Schools Pay for Compensatory Services for Special Ed. Students?
States’ efforts so far suggest there won’t be enough money to go around for all the learning losses of students with disabilities from COVID-19 school shutdowns.
8 min read
student struggling blue IMG
iStock/Getty
Special Education Bridging Distance for Learners With Special Needs
The schooling services that English-language learners and students with disabilities receive don’t always translate well to remote learning. Here’s how schools can help.
9 min read
Special IMG
E+/Getty