Being a parent is hard.
On top of parenting tasks like teaching good behavior and creating routines, there’s also the pressure to find fun things for the family to do.
Enter movie night.
Watching movies is a cherished tradition for many families, but what on Earth is a responsible caregiver to choose when it comes to movies that are acceptable for parents and children alike?
And for parents of a child or children on the autism spectrum, this task might be a bit more complicated.
Look no further.
We have 6 outstanding autism movies to keep you and your family occupied for several nights–or, if you’re really into movies, one or two very long nights.
You never know, once you review the 6 movies on this list, you might just find that you want to watch them all as quickly as possible!
First on our list is Inside Out, the Disney and Pixar film that impressed families the world over when it came out in 2015.
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.
Inside Out won an Oscar for Best Animated Feature Film of the Year. That means it’s a critically acclaimed and family-approved movie to enjoy during your next movie night!
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.
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 this great movie is 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.”
Fathers and sons get a lot of attention in the movies on our list, but it’s often mothers who come to know their children with special needs the best.
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 8 years ago, but it’s lessons are still relevant for parents today.
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.
Last on our list of top autism movies is a familiar name in the autism community.
Temple Grandin, herself diagnosed with autism, has become famous through her writing, speaking, and advocacy about the challenges she faced growing up.
From building large, complex contraptions to soothe herself during meltdowns, to becoming an extremely successful professor of animal science and consultant for the livestock industry, Temple Grandin’s story will absolutely 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.
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?
The AnswersNow staff feel strongly about these choices, and we believe there is a movie for every family on this list.
But we weren’t totally honest about one thing.
There is one more question to consider.
Who’s making the popcorn?