I’ve always been a great fan of the documentaries made by Louis Theroux. I think he’s an incredible filmmaker - almost a genius how he is able to portrait people and make documentaries that stick to the mind. Most recently, Theroux has made a series called Extreme Love, in which he visits families who are affected by severe autism and by dementia. The first one, on autism, was screened on Dutch TV last Friday, and can be seen on your computer screen for the next 60 hours on this website (Original with Dutch subtitles).
The children with autism featured in this episode are all situated on the severe end of the spectrum. I haven’t done any literature review on this, but my hypothesis is that it is very difficult to truly understand for people who do not have a disability, have never had a disability, or who never cared for people with disabilities, how it is to be disabled or live with someone disabled. We need narratives in order to understand, and preferably narratives not merely composed of words, but also of sounds, images, pictures — things that are able to convey not just factual knowledge but also meanings and emotions. Work like the one produced by Louis Theroux and his team offers us a unique opportunity to get a little closer to a world we may never enter. I may be incredibly naive, but I believe that if more people would regularly watch documentaries such as this one, the world would be a better place. If that’s true, then that would be another reason to watch this - apart from witnessing a genius at work.