In Wretches & Jabberers, two men with autism embark on a global quest to change attitudes about disability and intelligence. Determined to put a new face on autism, Tracy Thresher, 42, and Larry Bissonnette, 52, travel to Sri Lanka, Japan and Finland. At each stop, they dissect public attitudes about autism and issue a hopeful challenge to reconsider competency and the future.
Growing up, Thresher and Bissonnette were presumed “retarded” and excluded from normal schooling. With limited speech, they both faced lives of social isolation in mental institutions or adult disability centers. When they learned as adults to communicate by typing, their lives changed dramatically. Their world tour message is that the same possibility exists for others like themselves.
Between moving and transformative encounters with young men and women with autism, parents and students, Thresher and Bissonnette take time to explore local sights and culture; dipping and dodging through Sri Lankan traffic in motorized tuk-tuks, discussing the purpose of life with a Buddhist monk and finally relaxing in a traditional Finnish sauna. Along the way, they reunite with old friends, expand the isolated world of a talented young painter and make new allies in their cause.
From beginning to end, Thresher and Bissonnette inspire parents and young men and women with autism with a poignant narrative of personal struggle that always rings with intelligence, humor, hope and courage.