Who We Are
Ever since he was a little boy, Alexander Freeman has always known what he wanted to say. The trouble was, he couldn’t express every idea, every word, the way other people could.
Alexander was born with cerebral palsy, and speaking is very difficult for him. But today, at 23, he is a poet, playwright, lyricist, computer artist, painter, sculptor and a talented filmmaker majoring in directing at Emerson College in Boston.
How did Alexander get where he is today? He did it with his incredible determination, the encouragement of his family and technology from Easter Seals.
Alexander was in 7th grade when he began working with Easter Seals Technology Specialist Tom Quattrociocchi. Tom could see that Alexander, who has limited use of his hands, was frustrated by the computer access methods he had been using. So Tom created a joystick Alexander could move with his chin or hand, and a switch he could click with his knee to select letters on an on-screen keyboard.
Once Alexander could communicate, the floodgates opened. He began writing poetry, stories and scripts on the computer, and the world could finally see how thoughtful, intelligent and creative he is.
When Alexander went to college, Tom was there to ensure that he had computer access. He also set up a switch-adapted cell phone so Alexander could stay in touch with his family and friends when he was out in his power wheelchair.
Alexander has always focused on his abilities rather than his disabilities. “You're only disabled if you start telling yourself that you are,” he said. “A disability just means that you have a whole new perception of the world and you have a whole new story to tell.”
He wants people with disabilities, especially young people, to get out there, find some skill or talent they possess and hone in on it.
That’s exactly what Alexander did.
Creative even as a child, he staged shows and even built a microphone. At Brookline High School, he was a talented artist and sculptor, all of which he achieved by telling the people assisting him exactly what he wanted them to do.
Today, he uses that communication skill and his keen powers of observation to write, direct, edit and produce documentaries and short films, one of which was shown at Coolidge Corner Theater in Boston.
Hollywood tends to focus on people who are white, skinny, heterosexual and beautiful, Alexander believes. He formed his own production company, OUTCAST PRODUCTIONS, to tell the stories of the rest of us, including people with disabilities.
His edgy and provocative films are beginning to draw national interest. Recently, Alexander was chosen to co-direct “RAINBOWS END,” a feature film by Never Say Never Entertainment LLC.
Easter Seals chose Alexander to be the winner of its Team Hoyt Rising Star Award for 2011 because of his determination to change the way people with disabilities view themselves and the way able-bodied people view people with disabilities.
“Life is not worth living,” Alexander likes to say, “unless someone rattles the cage.”
The Easter Seals services Alexander received were made possible through partnerships with the Brookline Public Schools and Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission.