Autism Resource blog:

6 Outstanding Autism Movies to Enjoy With Your Child

Dec 11, 2020
Jordan Brown and Sasha Y.
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Being a parent is hard. On top of fundamental parenting tasks like teaching good behavior, creating routines, and getting the family together for meals, there’s also the pressure to find fun things for the family to do. For parents of a child or children on the autism spectrum, this task might be a bit more complicated.

Movies can be a great option. And for now, if you can’t go TO the movies, you can practice the “going to the movies” experience by having a movie night at home.

Here is a free social story that you can download and use to prepare your child for this experience. 

Now you just need to set up your “home movie theater,” grab some popcorn, and pick a movie that the whole family can enjoy.  We have 6 outstanding autism movies to keep you and your family occupied practicing “going to the movies” for several nights!

Autism Movie 1: Inside Out

First on our list is Inside Out, the Disney and Pixar film that impressed families all over the world when it came out in 2015, even winning an Oscar for Best Animated Feature Film of the Year.

Beautifully designed and imaginatively told, Inside Out is the story of a young girl, Riley, who is forced to cope with her emotions when her family picks up their lives and moves from the Midwest to San Francisco.

If you have a hard time talking about emotions in your family, then watching the animated characters in this film, several of whom represent individual emotions, might give you ideas for how to discuss feelings and moods with your children. Some of our clinicians even use clips for their therapy sessions!

Autism Movie 2: Life, Animated

Based off of the book of the same name, Life, Animated is the tale of journalist Ron Suskind and his son, Owen, who lives with autism.

This movie documents Owen’s life after being diagnosed with autism at age 3. With Owen’s parents worried and unsure of what to do to help their son, they discover the power of animated movies. 

Through watching animated movies, especially Disney films, Owen gains new skills and figures out his own way of communicating with the world.

You’ll notice that the first two films on this list have a Disney connection. There might be something to say for the way that the imaginative company inspires families to dream and never give up hope.

Autism Movie 3: The United States of Autism

This is another moving film, a documentary about a father searching for answers to help his son with autism. We can’t do the IMDB summary justice, so we’ll just share it here for you to know what it’s all about:

“Follow one man's 11,000 mile, 40 day journey across the American landscape to visit twenty families and individuals affected by autism while searching for answers for his own son. With interviews from around the nation that include the widest spectrum of backgrounds - each conducted in the participants' original language - the film weaves a broad and compelling tapestry across the spectrum of American life in all its faiths, disparities, colors, and cultures. What he learns along the way will change not only his life, but the lives of those he meets, forever. It's a story about the best days that still lie ahead for our nation, the families, and the people who give America its heart.”

Autism Movie 4: Fly Away

Fly Away is an emotional story about a mother doing her best to care for her daughter, who faces significant challenges due to being on the autism spectrum. 

This is a story about the decisions caregivers must make when parenting a child with special needs.

This film was released in 2011, but it’s lessons are still relevant for parents today.

Autism Movie 5: The Boy Who Could Fly

This film follows a young girl, Milly, who finds herself living next door to a nonverbal boy with autism, Eric. 

With a backdrop of family loss and heartache in both Eric’s and Milly’s families, this movie addresses challenging topics in a heartfelt, uplifting way. That being said, parents who decide to watch this movie with their children may want to provide explanations and reassurance throughout.

Eric’s belief that he can fly is written off by others, but young Milly, based on her experiences, begins to wonder if his belief might actually be true.

This is a classic movie that focuses on a little-discussed topic--non-verbal autism--in a way that is sure to spark conversations for you and your loved ones.

Autism Movie 6: Temple Grandin

Last on our list of top autism movies is a familiar name in the autism community. Temple Grandin, who lives with an autism diagnosis, has become famous through her work, her writing, her speaking, and her advocacy about the challenges she faced growing up.

From building large, complex contraptions to soothe herself during challenging moments, to becoming an extremely successful professor of animal science and consultant for the livestock industry, Temple Grandin’s story will inspire you and your family.

Her tale is remarkable not simply because she has autism, but because she shares her experiences in a way that emphasizes the dazzling humanity of her condition.

So, which movie about autism will you watch first?

This is the question that remains. Now that you have a good overview of 6 family-friendly movies about autism, which one will you choose?

For more autism parenting resources visit

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