You Have No Idea Image

You Have No Idea

By Alan Ng | April 1, 2024

Alexander Jeffery’s documentary You Have No Idea is the touching story of Beth James Burns and her autistic son, Evan James. As someone who has an autistic relative, I can relate to the title of the documentary since we (and I) have no idea what parents and family members of autistic individuals go through on a daily basis. Jeffery’s film provides us with a glimpse into their world and sheds light on the challenges they face.

For Beth and Dennis James, all they wanted was a healthy child. When Evan was born, everything appeared normal, but slowly, over time, it was discovered that Evan had autism. They also learned that the journeys of families with autism are not the same and that they would have to act quickly to ensure that Evan developed as best he could. Giving up was not an option for Beth and Dennis. Autism wasn’t really spoken of when Evan was born in the 1990s. The resources for autism were limited, and no “how-to” book fit Evan’s situation. Their first goal was to teach Evan how to communicate and express what he wanted—specific toys and food, for example.

Getting Evan to communicate was not going to happen overnight. In fact, it took days, long hours, and friends to help in the process. Through Beth and Dennis’ efforts, Evan continued to grow and mature. They realized that Evan’s development required a specific program from him…which is true for all children with autism. Each child walks their own path, and it’s a matter for parents to discover that path along the way. Hitting on that theme of “You Have No Idea,” tragedy strikes the James family when Dennis is diagnosed with Leukemia. When Dennis passed, Beth was left alone to care for Evan, who was quickly becoming an adult.

“…everything appeared normal, but slowly, over time, it was discovered that Evan had autism.”

Caring for a child with autism is a life-long journey. You Have No Idea is a title that is as on-the-nose as you can get. The moment that you want to pity Beth, her strength and love for Evan shine through. Through Beth’s experience, she shows that parents of autistic children are not alone and that there is hope and support. The James are also a family of faith, which comes with moments of divine intervention as well.

The best part of You Have No Idea is Beth and Evan. It’s hard not to fall in love with Evan. He has a huge heart and loves Beth dearly. He speaks of his father’s passing and his grief, in a picture and storybook that he created with Beth. Hearing him read about his father is an emotional gut punch.

Beth is nothing less than a hero. What comes across is her love for Evan, and much sympathy comes in trying to find that life balance (which is almost impossible) between the intense care needed for Evan and her personal life. Long after Dennis’ passing, she reunites with an old friend, Paul Burns. They fall in love and now take on the challenge of raising Evan with his rather large family.

You Have No Idea exists to bring awareness to the struggles and joys of parents with autistic children. As much as the documentary is the story of Beth and Evan, it’s also designed to be a resource. Beth goes into great detail about the techniques she employed with Evan and why they worked. She walks us through how they helped Evan grieve the death of his father and how she transitions Evan into being a somewhat independent person in case something ever happens to her.

For more information about You Have No Idea, visit the Bespoke Works official website.

You Have No Idea (2024)

Directed and Written: Alexander Jeffery

Starring: Beth James Burns, Evan James, etc.

Movie score: 8.5/10

You Have No Idea Image

"…to bring awareness to the struggles and joys of parents with autistic children."

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