Last summer, I ran into a dear friend, Jennie Linthorst, at the pool. She lives in California and I’d not seen her in years. She was in town visiting her folks. Much had changed with me since our paths had last crossed as was evidenced by my loud and joyous brood who were busy splashing in the baby pool. And much had changed in her life, too, as was evidenced by the presence of her husband, Erik, as well as her little boy, Graham.
I had the privilege of meeting Graham and in so doing, I learned all about his story. Soon, thanks to PBS, you’ll have that privilege, too.
When my wife and I first found out she was pregnant the last time, yet before we knew she was carrying triplets, I had the typical anxieties one might expect from a soon-to-be, first-time biological dad. But I shook off those concerns in part by embracing a philosophy that I shared one day with a close friend.
“It’s like this,” I explained. “I’m at the poker table of Parenting and I’m playing Texas Hold Em. I’ve gotten my cards, but I haven’t taken a peek at ‘em yet. Because it really doesn’t matter what I got. I’m all in. No matter what.”
Jennie’s husband, Erik Linthorst, an award winning documentary filmmaker and produced screenwriter, has a similar philosophy. “When you have a child,” he begins, “you’re sort of throwing the dice to the universe saying ‘Bring it on. I’m not sure you’re gonna give me, but I’m ready for it.’ ”
The cards Caroline and I were dealt yielded triplets. The dice Erik and wife Jennie threw? It was hard to say exactly what they landed on. At first, it seemed like a normal, healthy baby as Graham met all of his early developmental milestones.
But by the time their boy was 17 months old, Erik and Jennie began to suspect something wasn’t quite right with him. So they turned to the world of medical experts and therapists where they received contradicting opinions. “Their son was autistic. Sort of. Maybe. Some called him autistic-like. Others insisted he wasn’t autistic at all.”
Autistic-Like: Graham’s Story is a compelling and intimate look inside the life of a family trying to attach clarity to a fuzzy diagnosis. It chronicles one dad’s attempt to find the “right therapies, the right doctors, and even the right words to describe his son.” I’ve seen the documentary and I can assure you that it’s one you don’t want to miss.
Thanks to PBS, you won’t have to. The network will be airing the documentary (as well as an eight-minute update on how Graham’s doing today) in several cities beginning in April, which is Autism Awareness Month. Those cities include New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boston, Orlando, Seattle, San Antonio, Charlotte, Columbus and dozens more. WLIW in New York kicks off, with Autistic-Like airing April 2, and other cities will be following suit throughout the month and later this year.
To find out when Autistic-Like: Graham’s Story airs in your town, click HERE.
Below, I’ve embedded the trailer for the documentary. I highly encourage you to watch it.
Image: Jennie Linthorst