Choosing to be a Good Friend
Film Description: In the spirit of creating “nothing about us without us,” director Denise Schamens puts eight neurodivergent students at the center of this autism acceptance film, six of whom tell their own stories of living with autism. Three other friends and siblings offer their perspectives. All 12- to 16-year-old participants use their own language, which makes these personal accounts authentic platforms on which to build rich discussions about neurodiversity, bullying, and social emotional expression with other middle school students.
Director Biography: Denise Schamens has three children, two of whom are adults with special needs. Her insight into the needs of children with autism and related education gave rise to Good Friend, Inc. (GFI), a nonprofit organization dedicated to creating autism awareness, teaching acceptance of differences, and fostering empathy for individuals with autism. Since 2007, Denise has served as its co-founder, vice president, and creative director. She has edited and directed four short films for GFI, and enjoys other creative pursuits including designing theatrical sets.