"Breaking Down the Barriers of Autism" Event at Bay College


The stars of Wretches and Jabberers are pictured. Tracy is wearing a blue striped shirt. Larry is wearing a red striped shirt.

The Delta Schoolcraft Intermediate School District (DSISD) and Bay College will present, “Breaking Down the Barriers of Autism,” a live presentation and documentary film. Bay College will show the film Wretches & Jabberers which is about two men with autism who embark on a road trip to change how people feel about disabilities. The film will be featured on the Escanaba Campus in the Besse Center Theater on April 15 from 6:00 PM -8:00 PM EST and at their Iron Mountain West Campus in Fornetti Hall on April 17 from 2:00 PM to 4:00 PM CST. Then, on April 23 the stars of the film will visit Bay College at their Escanaba Campus in the Besse Center Theater from 6:00-8:00 PM EST. It will also be live streamed to the Iron Mountain West Campus in Fornetti Hall from 5:00 -7:00 PM CST that same day. Their second presentation is at the Escanaba High School in their auditorium from 1:00 - 2:30 PM EST on April 24.

Oscar® winner and twice Academy Award® nominated filmmaker, Gerardine Wurzburg, directed the featured documentary Wretches & Jabberers. Wurzburg’s compelling documentary, which chronicles the world travels of disability rights advocates, Tracy Thresher and Larry Bissonnette, displays a bold quest to change attitudes about the intelligence and abilities of people with autism.

In fact, until the 1980s, most children and young adults with autism in the U.S. were excluded from normal schooling. Some were even placed in mental institutions. Like many children with autism, Tracy and Larry grew up unable to speak. They faced a future of social isolation in adult disability centers. When Tracy was 23 and Larry was 34, their lives changed when they learned to communicate by typing. Larry notes, “nothing I did…convinced people I had an inner life until I started typing.”

As one of the film’s stars, Antti humorously declares, the world is divided into “Wretches” – those with limited speech – and “Jabberers” – those who can speak freely.  “We poor wretches are better than jabberers. They don’t know it yet, but we will tell it to them [at the conference].” At the end of that conference, Antti strikes a more serious note, asking the audience to “dispel the darkness around us poor wretches. Take us for real people. Don’t sideline us.” 

The Bay College Diversity Committee is partnering with the Delta Schoolcraft Intermediate School District in celebration of Autism Awareness Month to sponsor these events and make them free and open to the Public. For more information, Email Joseph%20Mold or call 906-217-4246.