A short documentary on nonverbal autism

While we were creating the Talking Brains exhibition, we did a documentary about a child with nonverbal autism, Dídac. We went to his home and shot some scenes with him and his mother, Verónica. We wanted to raise the question of what happens when one does not have language. Imagining a nonverbal world is something almost impossible for those of us who do have language.

Los pictogramas con velcro de Dídac

In the documentary, which can be seen in the exhibition, we explore the means of communication Dídac and his family use. It is a system known as PECS, a set of pictures and pictograms he can point at to build up meanings. There is a scene in the movie where the kid is pointing at a picture of his and, then, at the pictograms for want, go, see and then to a picture of a girl. As he points these small pictures held together to a board with velcro, his mother says out loud Dídac wants to go see Paula.

The case is very interesting and very educational. Dídac and his world made us think about the important things in life, those he has and those he lacks. His house, with the walls covered by pictograms at his disposal, is impressive.

Among the miriad opportuinties for communication, standing in a childish palace of Disney movies, toys and chocolate shakes, a stolid woman, Verónica, explained to us how they had gotten to that place. She told us how she had looked for someone who could explain her son to her and how she finally got to grips with an announcement that included two devastating words for her: severe and incurable. Such a diagnose has to be mourned, once and once again, until grief is over and you feel ready to face your new live, which is at the same time the one you had and a completely different one.

Verónica Fabra

Verónica went through the process and had to face a new challenge, setting down a way of communicating with Dídac, which is what we explained in the film for the exhibition.

In the search of bridges to her son, Verónica also found other bridges that kept her connected to the real world, allowing her to find a space of her own where she could take a break from the full time job that is taking care of her children. Ironically, the space where she visits and revisits herself is made up of words: writting. She tells her story, the narrative of her life, and the lives of her children, Dídac and Olivia. It translates into a blog made up of these narratives, and into the book “Raíces y alas” (Roots and wings). That’s nothing!