Top 5 Autism Spectrum Documentary Films

With an incidence of 1 in 88 children identified with Autism, it is very likely that you have in some way come into contact with either an individual with autism or a friend or family member who is caring for an individual with Autism.

Maybe your interested in what it’s like to have Autism or what it’s like to love an individual with Autism, but didn’t know how to ask without seeming rude. Or maybe you are a caregiver and would like to see depictions of other families who are living with Autism in some way.

You don’t have to be in the dark any longer. Satisfy your curiosity about Autism by engaging in one of the many well made documentary films that tell the stories of individuals on the spectrum and their families. Below you will find my top 5 documentary films about the Autism spectrum. I have tried to cover the life span and choose a well range of topics from early childhood to adulthood as well as films that fall outside of the stereotyped images of Autism. Enjoy and please comment and share your own choices as well.

1. Loving Lamppost (2010) – This is the story of one father’s journey to understand his son’s new diagnosis. He learns about the two viewpoints in the Autism community the “recovery movement” and the “neurodiversity movement.” A very touching and informative film that is great introduction for parents of newly diagnosed children.

2. Autism: The Musical (2007) – This is a feel good film that follows the lives of five L.A. children on the Autism spectrum as they prepare to perform in a musical production. The documentary does a great job of showcasing the children’s creative abilities while they deal with their own unique challenges.

3. Refrigerator Mothers (2003) – Did you know that in the 1950’s and 1960’s mothers who sought treatment for their children’s impairments were actually blamed for the child’s disability? This film interviews a number of families, mother’s in particular who lived through this time period and dealt with being a “refrigerator mother” – a parent who was incapable of providing warmth and nurturing to their baby and thus created a child who could not connect.

4. Fragile X… Every Family Has a Story – This documentary follows a family, specifically two adult brothers in Canada who are diagnosed with Fragile X syndrome, the most widespread, single gene cause of Autism. This film focuses on the family challenges and dynamics that adults with Autism and their families deal with on an ongoing basis.

5. Wretches and Jabberers (2011) – This is a delightful film about two adults with Autism; Larry and Tracy, who travel around the world sharing an international story of Autism. This film gives a unique insight into the lives of adults on the spectrum from their point of view and in their own words as well as experiencing the exotic locations from Larry and Tracy’s point of view.

Obviously this is a very short list and there are a number of other great documentary films that portray the Autism spectrum. Most of the above can be found free on the internet with a simple search of the name.

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