Teen talks held in Williams

WILLIAMS – PowerUp YOUth introduced middle school students from Williams to autism with the screening of the movie “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close” last Thursday at the Williams Public Library as a part of Recovery Awareness Month.

The movie was the first in a series of events scheduled in Hamilton County which are designed to inform the public of mental health and substance abuse issues during September, said PowerUp YOUth director, Kathy Getting.

Starring Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock, the movie featured Thomas Horn as Oskar, a middle school student who lives in New York and has Asperger’s Syndrome.

Asperger’s Syndrome is a milder developmental disorder on the autism spectrum which involves delays in the development of many basic skills such as socialization and communication skills and affects the ability to use imagination.

After Oskar’s father (Tom Hanks), is killed on Sept. 11, 2001 when he was attending a meeting in one of the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center, Oskar is obsessed with the idea that his father left him a message somewhere in the metropolis. He spends the next several months tracking down all the people in the New York City phone book who may hold the clue to this mystery.

Williams Public Library Head Librarian Diane Sinclair lead the discussion over pizza and pop with the students.

Students recognized Oskar’s difficulty in relating to people and how that made it harder to solve his mystery.

“It did make it more difficult for him,” said Joridin Pigsly. “He had a hard time talking to people.”

Oskar’s survivor’s guilt also caused him to display dangerous behaviors.

“He was trying to punish himself by pinching himself,” said Daniele Moon.

While the students identified behaviors that they were not familiar with, they were alarmed by a child who would travel around a large city without an adult and repeatingly talk to people he didn’t know. “He was always talking to strangers,” said Adalie Schwandt, who felt that was a dangerous practice.

The second in the Recovery Awareness Month series will take place on Tuesday at 6 p.m. at the Kendall Young Library in Webster City when adults view the movie, “Silver Linings Playbook”.

Additional events will take place in Jewell, Ellsworth and Stratford, said Kathy Getting, director of PowerUp YOUth.