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Actress Julia Ormond Gifts her Emmy to Eustacia Cutler— the Woman she Portrayed in HBO’s Temple Grandin


Renowned British actress Julia Ormond is no longer in possession of the 2010 Emmy she was awarded for role in the HBO feature Temple Grandin. The statuette was not stolen; rather, Ormond graciously gave it to a stunned Eustacia Cutler during a deeply moving presentation that highlighted a daylong autism conference hosted by Vista Del Mar Child and Family Services’ Julia Ann Singer Center.

Ormond was scheduled to present Cutler with Vista Del Mar’s “Baron Inspiration Award.” The presentation of this award completed a cinematic circle of sorts as Ormond won a 2010 Emmy for her portrayal of Cutler in HBO’s Temple Grandin. Cutler is the real-life mother of Temple Grandin, who was diagnosed with autism as a child, and who has since gone on to become one of the world’s leading animal scientists and autism advocates. Now an autism advocate herself, Cutler fought tirelessly to ensure that her daughter received the nurturing therapeutic services she needed to achieve her full potential.

Surprising all in attendance at the conference—most particularly Cutler—Ormond went far beyond just presenting the scheduled award. Before gifting her Emmy to Cutler, Ormond said, “I know that as a young woman Eustacia Cutler’s dream was to be an actress. She put aside her own dream and sacrificed everything for her children. Knowing Eustacia as I do, I believe she would have been an incredible actress. Instead, she played the most important role a woman can play in life—that of a loving and caring mother. And, for that, I want her to have my Emmy.”

The conference—which was designed to benefit parents of children with autism and professionals in the autism field—began with a presentation by one of the world’s most-sought-after-autism authorities, Dr. Stephen Shore. Diagnosed with autism and recommended for institutionalization as a child, Dr. Shore silenced doubters by earning his doctoral degree at Boston University and going on to become the only university professor who both lives with autism and teaches about autism (at Adelphi University). The acclaimed author of several books—Beyond the Wall: Personal Experiences with Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome; Ask and Tell: Self-advocacy and Disclosure for People on the Autism Spectrum; and Understanding Autism for Dummies—Dr. Shore’s presentation was titled, “Self Advocacy: Finding Your Ability Within the Disability.” Dr. Shore additionally discussed autism from the perspective of transitioning to adulthood.

Dr. Shore was followed by Eustacia Cutler. In her widely acclaimed book, A Thorn in My Pocket, Cutler chronicled the challenges of raising a child with autism—Temple Grandin—in the conservative era of the 1950s. Cutler’s conference presentation was aptly entitled, “Impact on the Family: A Mother’s Journey.”

At the conclusion of the conference lunch period, attendees were treated to a moving performance of two songs—from their CD Fly: Into Autism—by The Vista Inspire Program and Miracle Project Kids. The performance was followed by an “Ask the Artists” session in which a panel of teens shared their thoughts about living with autism. Panel participants included a nonverbal young man, Ido Kedar- who took part by typing his responses, as well as teens Wyatt Isaacs, Neal Katz (also nonverbal) and moderator Elaine Hall—all three whom starred in the HBO Emmy-Award-winning documentary—Autism: The Musical. Elaine Hall is also the director of the Vista Inspire Program and the author of Now I See the Moon: a mother, a son, a miracle. Rounding out the afternoon were several break-out sessions, including: “Top 10 Tips for Creating the Team for Your Child;” “Personalized Lifetime Support: Transitioning Teens to Adults;” “Therapeutic Approaches for Families with Kids in the Autism Spectrum;” and “Finding Strength for the Journey—A Bio/Psycho/Social/Spiritual Panel.”

Vista Del Mar Child and Family Services was established in 1908 and, over the course of more than a century, has evolved from an orphanage to a union of five specialized agencies working together to provide comprehensive, therapeutic, as well as educational programs and services for children and their families on a picturesque, 18-acre campus in West Los Angeles. These agencies include: Vista Del Mar; Julia Ann Singer Center; Reiss Davis Child Study Center; Home-SAFE (located in Hollywood); and Family Service of Santa Monica (located in Santa Monica).

Vista Del Mar provides 45 programs to nearly 6,000 children and families annually. Services provided by the agency include, but are not limited to: therapeutic, residential treatment for severely emotionally disturbed youth; private-adoption services for both domestic and international adoptions; community-based foster care; a network of mental-health and case- management services for children at risk of out-of-home placement; a private, special-needs school (K-12); mental-health services to students in schools throughout Los Angeles; therapeutic school and intervention services for children with autism; individual and group counseling for children and families; educational assessments and treatment; child-abuse-prevention services; and early childhood care and provider training.

For additional information, visit http://www.vistadelmar.org.

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