Documentaries About Autism

Documentaries About Autism

Recent documentaries have taken a fresh look at what it means to "be on the spectrum" and how to celebrate the gifts of neurodiversity.

Recent documentaries have taken a fresh look at what it means to "be on the spectrum" and how to celebrate the gifts of neurodiversity. Here, you'll find our curated collection of a few of the best documentary films and in-depth news stories about autism.


Life, Animated

LIFE, ANIMATED is the inspirational story of Owen Suskind, a young man who was unable to speak as a child until he and his family discovered a unique way to communicate by immersing themselves in the world of classic Disney animated films. This emotional coming-of-age documentary follows Owen as he graduates to adulthood and takes his first steps toward independence. (Released July 2016)

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POV: Neurotypical

Neurotypical is an exploration of autism from the point of view of autistic people themselves. Four-year-old Violet, teenaged Nicholas and adult Paula occupy different positions on the autism spectrum, but they are all at pivotal moments in their lives. How they and the people around them work out their perceptual and behavioral differences becomes a remarkable reflection of the "neurotypical" world — the world of the non-autistic — revealing inventive adaptations on each side and an emerging critique of both what it means to be normal and what it means to be human. (PBS Premiere: July 2013)

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Spectrum: A Story of the Mind

Take a journey into the rich sensory experience of autism, a world where words taste and thoughts feel, where sounds swell with color and leaves on trees change tones visible to the naked eye, and where eye contact with another can cause physical pain. The documentary explores autism through the lens of diverse characters on the spectrum. (PBS Premiere: April 2017)

Spectrum Kids

Kids on the spectrum practice gymnastics. Movement helps regulate their sensory systems.

Temple Grandin on Sensory Issues

Dr. Temple Grandin describes her sensory world. Animation brings her experiences to life.

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PBS NewsHour: Autism Now

This 6-part series hosted by Robert MacNeil takes a close look at how autism impacts families, schools and communities. The story is one that resonates deeply with his own family and the families of thousands of others — MacNeil’s 6-year-old grandson, Nick, has autism. Watch all six episodes here. (PBS Premiere: April 2011)

Part One: Introduction to Nick and Autism as a whole-body experience

Robert MacNeil brings viewers along on a visit with his daughter and grandson Nick in Cambridge, Mass., to see how autism affects the whole family.

Part Four: Autism Treatment

School systems often bear most of the burden of treating children with autism through educational tools. Robert MacNeil looks at how two schools in the New York City area handle teaching children and teens with autism.

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The United States of Autism

Richard Everts, the director and the father of an autistic son, introduces 20 families dealing with the disorder, visited during 40 days of road travel across the country. With interviews 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. (Released July 2016)

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Reading Rockets (2017)

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"There is no substitute for books in the life of a child." — May Ellen Chase