In his Bar Mitzvah video, Adam Wolfond, a non-speaking autistic person who types to communicate, explores the story of Moses and the Golden Calf to ask: “Does the Torah book answer the reasons why I don’t talk?” Viewed as non-relational and unaware because of his autism label, Adam expresses his relationship to others, his environment and his love of animals, questioning why people consider him aware only if he talks: “…people are always talking but not saying very much… I know a lot of things and see a lot of things you do not see… I am not all arranged like a person who is not aware” (Wolfond, 2016). The burden of having to prove himself in language is also one of Adam’s pressing concerns:
“I want to talk about all things that are important to me. My films answer pressing need to your oral passage of landings of language… wanting places to answer in the want of words.”
Finding affinity with Moses who had a speech impairment, Adam reminds us that Moses could deliver the word of G-d with the support of his brother, Aaron. Adam’s film and essay help us reconsider how autistic experience can enable us to attune to, and support difference and diversity in society.
The full film, Adam’s Bar Mitzvah, will have its world premiere May 17th at the ReelAbilities Toronto Film Festival (presented by the Miles Nadal JCC).