Imagine losing the love of your life to cancer. Now, imagine that the love of your life was the primary caregiver for your son with autism. David Wilson, in ‘ A boy called Po’ faces this exact scenario.
While he is grieving for the loss of his wife, he now must take care of his son ‘Po.’ But the problem is David is a busy engineer with a high powered job and can’t possibly do both.
The movie story line involves a newly widowed father (David Wilson) learning to take care of his son Patrick aka Po, who has autism. Viewers watch David go through the stages of mourning, becoming a single dad, losing his job, to the end where he accepts that his son, not his career, is his primary focus in life.
My son with autism and I got a chance to watch’ A Boy Named Po’ at ‘AutFest’ last April. ‘AutFest’ is an Autism Film Festival, made possible by the Autism Society and other sponsors. The movie touches on extreme challenges, dilemmas, and sacrifices that many parents with autism face.But most important, it delivers a message of hope to parents with autism never to give on their kids!
About A Boy Called Po
A Boy Named Po is a small budget but very informative film that was released September 1, 2017, in select theaters. Since the writers and director ( John Asher, Colin Goldman, and Steve Roberts) have kids on the spectrum, this movie is pretty much a labor of love. The creators wanted to share the world their personal experiences but also encourage the parents in the autism community.
Burt Bacharach even agreed to write a new score, the first in 17 years and dedicated it to his late daughter who apparently was on the spectrum too.The cast includes Christopher Gorham as David Wilson, Kaitlin Doubleday as Amy the Physical Therapist and Andrew Bowen as the pirate Jack. Refreshing and very convincing in their performance are Julian Feder as Po and Caitlin Carmichael as his friend, Amelia Carr
The cast includes Christopher Gorham as David Wilson, Kaitlin Doubleday as Amy and Andrew Bowen as the Jack. Refreshing in their breakthrough performances are Julian Feder as Po and Caitlin Carmichael as his friend, Amelia Carr. In fact, Julian Feder is so convincing that my son with autism felt compelled to ask him how he prepared for the role.
Like in many families with autism the person holding everything in place in the Wilson household was the mom. As a full-time caregiver, she kept her son grounded. Moreover, she enabled her husband to focus on his demanding career.Now that she has passed away both Po and his dad feel the vacuum formed and don’t know how to ‘fix things’
After his mom’s death, Po encloses himself in his world.His behaviors at school spin out of control. When his dad seemingly gives up and sends him to the group home, it is a turning point for him. The question is will he break or adjust?
He befriends a girl ( Amelia Carr), and for a while, she helps him manage his feelings and thoughts. In fact, with her, he feels he can escape his reality and have fun.
On the other hand acting as the responsible adult, his dad doesn’t do well either.
At first, the father fights to keep everything as stable as possible for the son. But sooner than later, he understands that Po is drifting further and further away. He is obliged to realize that Po needs full-time parental support, which clashes with his high powered career. His choice is let go of his job or his child. Neither of which he seems ready to do.
Parents: Don’t be afraid
As a mom of a son with autism, I loved the message of ‘Don’t be afraid.’ Way too many parents give up on trying to reach their kids. The message is particularly poignant for the dads of kids on the spectrum.
Like many others, I related to his dad’s hardships. Furthermore, I appreciated the fact the writers didn’t try to sugarcoat the daily drama associated with autism. Fights with the school systems and health insurance, meltdowns and even the encounters with child services- they were all there.
We found the ending a bit saccharine. I guess the writers wanted to end the story on an uplifting note. And of course, the sunrise over Santa Monica’s Pier is as beautiful as it gets for ambiance.
I feel that all age groups can benefit from watching A Boy Called Po. The story was incredibly easy to follow, so kids eight and up will be able to understand the plot.
In fact, I’d like this movie shown in schools as a conversation starter about autism and death. Since schools, have children with autism attending, a film like A Boy Called Po, can help kids and staff learn more about the disability.