I realized that sixty-five movies in and I hadn’t watched a documentary yet so today I watched Wretches and Jabberers and Stories on the Road. Wretches and Jabberers follows two autistic men, Tracy Thresher, 42, and Larry Bissonnette, 52 as they travel around the world bringing to light the difficulties and the abilities of those who have autism. What is highlighted most in this film is how their ability to type has had a profound effect on their lives. Both of them have very limited verbal ability, Tracy being mostly mute while Larry is prone to outbursts of repeated words. But when typing they can not only communicate effectively but also quite intelligently. This breaks down the myth of their inability to communicate is one of lack cognitive ability.
They visit India, Japan and Finland during the film and meet with other autistic people who have also improved their ability to communicate through typing as well. They bond over a shared struggle to be understood. Larry and Tracy also talk to a variety of groups about what they want people to understand about autism.
I like that this movie isn’t just about their advocacy, we also see them visit places in the countries, do touristy things. They don’t cut out the time it takes them to communicate some things. You see how frustrating it is to convey an idea one agonizing click of the keyboard at a time. We see when they have outbursts at not being able to communicate or when some outside stimuli upsets them. What I wished for was a way to highlight Pascal and Henry the assistants who have been working with Larry and Tracy for over a decade. I know this documentary is mostly on empowering those with autism but it would’ve been a nice way to show how those of us who are not autistic can be allies.
I really enjoyed this documentary and think everyone should really see it. These are the hardest movies to write reviews about because you want to tell so much but you don’t want to spoil it as well. I was touched the most I think by Tracy’s current story and Larry’s past story of a time when autism was so misunderstood. I felt frustrated for Henna and Atti who wanted more out of life but dealing with a system around them that seem to not think they were capable about it. And I was heartbroken at Chammi and Naoki’s sense of isolation due to an educational system not build to include them.