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WFU communication professor shares story of son's autism

By Maggie Barrett
336.758.5237
Sept. 6, 2005

Wake Forest University will screen communication professor Jack Lucido's film advocating early intervention for children displaying signs of autism at 7 p.m. Sept. 20 in Carswell Hall, Room 111.

The film, titled "Jackson Sandwich," chronicles the early diagnosis of Lucido's son, Jackson, with one of five developmental disorders classified within the spectrum of autism and the successful treatment he received. A panel discussion and reception will follow the screening. The event, sponsored jointly by the university's department of communication and the film studies program, is free and open to the public.

According to the Autism Society of America (ASA), autism is the fastest-growing developmental disability in the U.S. The condition varies from mild to severe, and impairs a person's ability to communicate, interact and form relationships with others. A child with autism may at first seem to be developing normally, but then withdraws and loses interest in others.

Jackson was diagnosed and began treatment when he was 4 years old. The film shows the contrast between Jackson as he is today, a gregarious, expressive 9-year-old boy, and how he was prior to treatment, a child who exhibited unusual behavior and struggled with social interaction.

Lucido says the early intervention that Jackson received is the reason for his son's remarkable progress and the inspiration for his film.

"I was compelled to relay this account in the hope of influencing parents to take action and have their children checked out if they suspect there might be a problem," Lucido said.

According to the ASA, early diagnosis and treatment can empower children with autism to lead fuller lives utilizing such therapies as behavior modification and others to improve social and communication skills.

To tell Jackson's story, Lucido and Jackson returned to Eureka, Calif., where Jackson was diagnosed and treated. The film features footage of the father and son's trip sandwiched between commentary from Lucido, his wife and the specialists responsible for Jackson's treatment.

However, the sandwiching of footage is not the reason for the film's title.

"As for why I named my documentary 'Jackson Sandwich,' you'll have to see it," Lucido said with a smile.

Lucido is a lecturer in communication at Wake Forest. He received his master of fine art degree in broadcasting and cinema from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. "Jackson Sandwich," was his thesis film. He plans on submitting it to various film festivals in the near future.

To arrange an interview with Lucido, contact Maggie Barrett at barretmb@wfu.edu or (336) 758-5237.


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