Adam Lando never takes his friends for granted. “A lot of people do, but I’ve never had the chance to do that, I’ve really had to work for my friends.”
The 18-year-old hip-hop artist has Asperger’s syndrome, a highly-functioning form of autism characterized by high intellectual functioning and socially inappropriate behaviours. Lando says he grew up with a “low social IQ.”
When he was just 12, his mother, award-winning filmmaker Marianne Kaplan, followed his struggle to graduate elementary school and turned it into an intensely personal documentary, The Boy Inside.
“Grade 7 was the toughest year for me,” says Lando, “That was about as bad as it got. I transferred to a new school because I didn’t feel safe at my old school after someone put a knife to my throat, so I basically didn’t have any friends for two years. That’s tough on you when you’re that young, or at any age, really.”
Lando says he got special treatment throughout his school years, in programs for special needs children and from a social education assistant, which he says drew negative attention from other students.
“There was always someone by your side to help with problems, but I never had any independence. People would judge me right off the bat. They would see this one kid with a helper and say, he’s different,” says Lando. “I fought for my independence and I got it in Grade 11.”
Now Lando has finished high school, has gone on to college, is thinking about moving out, has his own apparel company and is about to release his first album as his alter-ego The Extra Terrestrial, titled Dexedream after the pharmaceutical Dexedrine he’s taken for years to help him focus. “My parents didn’t think I’d graduate elementary school. I’m really excited about where I am now and where I’m going,” he says. “You might think I sound completely insane when I say this, but I really don’t think I have it anymore, I really feel like a normal person.” M
The Boy Inside
Screening at Eric Martin Pavilion (1900 block Fort), Monday, July 25 at 6:30pm.
By donation. Lando will attend.