Documentary by alum focuses on Asperger's

Posted March 28, 2012

Abilene Christian University alumna Jennifer (England) Allen ('85) has produced an animated documentary and booklet on Asperger's syndrome titled Coping to Excelling: Solutions for School-Aged Children Diagnosed with High-Functioning Autism or Asperger's Syndrome. Allen, a graduate of ACU's Department of Journalism and Mass Communication, created the documentary after her eldest son, Sam, was diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome.

"The journey of producing Coping to Excelling began with my desire to assist younger mothers raising a child on the higher end of the autism spectrum," Allen says. "Our job as parents is to remove obstacles and allow our kids to be who God intended them to be. Let’s take them from merely coping with their diagnoses to excelling!"

Coping to Excelling includes the hour long documentary and an optional booklet with film commentary and worksheets. Allen says her film is a unique tool because "it allows the viewer to ‘see through the eyes’ of those on the high end of the autism spectrum through animation, expert interviews and situation reenactments."

Allen's son, Sam, appears in the film, reminding viewers, "Don't worry about the impairments God included in [your] package. Think about the good stuff in the package God gave you."

Her work has received high praises from parents and physicians alike. "I would strongly recommend Coping to Excelling to parents, especially those of a newly diagnosed child, and also to teachers and professionals," says Dr. Tony Attwood, an Australian physician, author, and Asperger's expert. Attwood, along with leading Asperger's researcher Dr. Temple Grandin and Jennifer McIlwee Myers (author of How to Teach Life Skills to Kids with Autism or Asperger's) appears in the documentary.

Allen lives in San Antonio with her husband, Herb, and their children. Sam, now 16, is thriving in high school. To learn more about Coping to Excelling, visit here.