FOCUS ON ME is a documentary portrait of Robin, a developmentally disabled young woman, and the struggles and triumphs of her daily life. Robin, always straddling the line between adulthood and childhood, gives voice to an otherwise unheard perspective: “This is what it feels like to be me.”
Robin’s life was challenged from the outset. Born prematurely in 1974, with kidney surgery at 3 months, and eye surgery not long after, it was unclear if the developmental deficits she demonstrated resulted from these physical problems or were part of a more serious, permanent learning defect.
After being medically evaluated at 4 months, it was discovered she had mild cerebral palsy on her left side. As she grew, Robin appeared passive, unemotional and unusually quiet for a toddler. Learning to walk took her about twice the normal amount of time; she remained in diapers until age 5. No one could predict what ability levels she might eventually achieve. All of these disabilities emerged in the setting of a crumbling family unit, as divorce broke up the household.
Through the years, Robin made astonishing strides and gained a wisdom and maturity seemingly beyond her capacity. FOCUS ON ME is the depiction of Robin’s daily routine. It shows Robin’s first romantic relationship with her boyfriend Don and its ultimate end. It demonstrates how Robin deals with her life as a disabled woman, how she spends her time, and how she relates to her family, staff, peers and the community at large. The camera follows Robin working at her job at Banana Republic, going to movies and restaurants with her day program, spending time with family and friends, doing chores, participating in Special Olympics and relaxing at home with her housemates.
Of course Robin has her faults, but her attributes are often overlooked because her faults are unusual or socially unacceptable. The line between fact and fantasy, truth and reality are constantly blurred for Robin. When this happens, she is asked “Is that a WISH or the REAL TRUTH?”
Robin is frequently misunderstood, and often ignored and mistreated because of her disabilities. FOCUS ON ME is a forum for Robin to describe her life, her friends, her experiences in a way that anyone can understand and relate to. It is an effort to enlighten the uneducated by sharing the obstacles she and her family have had in the struggle to make her life fulfilling and safe.
“You must look into people as well as at them.” – Lord Chesterfield