CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. (AP) Taylor Crowe has overcome long odds in his life with autism. Now, the 27-year-old southeast Missouri man is featured in a new documentary about the disorder.
The Icelandic documentary "The Sunshine Boy" looks at autism spectrum disorders through the eyes of those affected, including Crowe, of Cape Girardeau. The film will be released by Frontier Filmworks on Friday in Iceland. A release date in the U.S. has not been set.
Crowe, his father and stepbrother flew to Iceland recently for the premiere.
Crowe was diagnosed as a toddler after he lost his speech abilities and became reclusive. Through organized social interaction, practice and determination, Taylor is now a college graduate about to publish a children's book on autism. He also gives speeches on the disorder.
The film's producer, Margret Dagmar, started the project after being told many times there was nothing doctors could do for her autistic son Keli, now 9. The film shows people of different ages and affected by different disorders across the autism spectrum.
Interviews with Crowe are featured toward the end of the film, according to Alana Odegard, a production assistant on "The Sunshine Boy."
"Everyone was built differently," Crowe told the Southeast Missourian newspaper. "When the movie comes out, it's going to make people understand autism."
A film crew in May 2007 followed Crowe while he attended the California Institute of the Arts and recorded how autism affected his life.
"It's made it hard for me in many ways," he said. "It makes it hard to interact with people."
Poor social interaction, deficits in verbal and nonverbal communication, poor eye contact and repetitive behaviors can place a person on the autism spectrum.
Crowe is considered an autistic savant with a few short cartoons and several presentations on autism and others on animation dotting his resume. He is now active in forming and maintaining relationships, something he attributes to his parents not giving up on him.
"A lot of parents, before children are born, don't know how to handle it. This might teach them," he said. "Parents underestimate the children's abilities."
In addition to Crowe and others with autism-related disorders, the film includes interview with doctors, researchers, scientists and families affected by autism, Odegard told the newspaper in an e-mail interview.
Odegard said they wanted the film to spread "the message of hope."
On the Net:
Information from: Southeast Missourian, http://www.semissourian.com
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.
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