Woods Hole 2017
Newburyport, Superfest, Chagrin Doc
A non-verbal autistic man pushes for inclusion as he pursues higher education.
As a young child, DJ Savarese was abandoned by his birth parents, faced abuse in foster care, and was too-readily dismissed as a lost cause. His adoptive parents disagreed, insisting on mainstreaming him in school, and providing the necessary tools to help him communicate and thrive. Rooy follows Deej and his parents over several years as the young man completes high school and begins his college studies, gaining acceptance at Oberlin, his first choice. Speaking through a computer-aided device, Deej, who takes a producer credit here, emerges as an advocate for disability awareness and inclusion, while also sharing his writing, with themes of isolation and his desire for, yet fears about, independence from his parents.