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Top 10 Movies Featuring Autism

Movies and television can be a great way to get the family together to watch something transformative and helpful! There are many movies featuring autism, or ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder), including documentaries, dramas, and comedies.

Creating this list was not particularly easy because many movies about autism only offer the perspective of someone high functioning who can express themselves and hold down a difficult job. We did our best to select content that reflects different perspectives on what it’s like living with autism.

1. Please Stand By (Amazon Prime Video)

In the movie “Please Stand By,” Dakota Fanning plays a young autistic who runs away from her caregiver to deliver her 500-page Star Trek script to a Hollywood writing competition. This movie is full of adventure, laughter, and tears. Wendy’s character is captured with careful delicacy and attention to detail. Watch as she follows her spirit animal Mr. Spock on her journey to acceptance. “Please Stand By” is a great film to watch with your teenage child with autism!

2. A Brilliant Young Mind (Amazon Prime Video)

Known asX+Y in England, this British drama film is about a teenage math prodigy who struggles to build relationships with others. However, he develops a friendship with a young girl while competing in an international mathematics competition. Through this relationship, he learns a lot about himself and the world. “A Brilliant Young Mind” is a story of growth and friendship. Perfect for family night or after an experience related to difficulties in relationships.

3. Temple Grandin (HBO)

If you haven’t heard of autism spokesperson Temple Grandin, Google her immediately. This Emmy-winning movie is a biopic about Temple, played by Claire Danes. Temple Grandin is a powerful woman in the world of science, and she has autism. During the film, she becomes a top scientist in the livestock handling industry. What is truly remarkable about this film is that it is based on the true story of this woman’s life. It explores Temple’s autism and behaviors. It depicts how she uses them to make herself an asset to this world.

4. Snow Cake (available on various services)

This film featuring Alan Rickman, Carrie-Anne Moss, and Sigourney Weaver is about a middle-aged woman with autism. Snow Cake is the story of how she develops a friendship with a man traumatized after having a car accident that kills her daughter. While this movie isn’t only about autism, it does explore themes of love and healing.

Sigourney Weaver researched her role intensively for the movie. Additionally, she was coached by autism author and motivational speaker Ros Blackburn to understand her character further. Her performance in this film is unforgettable. Expect to be moved by her journey.

5. Nathan’s Kingdom (available on various services)

Nathan’s Kingdom is a film about a young man with autism who manages life with his drug-addicted teenage sister. Together they risk everything to locate an imaginary kingdom with the potential to alter their lives forever. They avoid social services, defeat monsters, and go on a quest for an opportunity to live a better life together.

6. Keep The Change (available on various services)

This romantic comedy is about an aspiring filmmaker mandated to attend a social program at his local Jewish Community center and what he gains from his time there. In Keep the Change,” David feels like he doesn’t belong until he’s assigned to visit the Brooklyn Bridge with the optimistic Sara. Instantly sparks fly between them, and everything he knows about life is tested.

This film features scenes with support groups that could bring up some meaningful dialogue about resources within your community. Exposure through a movie is a great way to introduce an idea to a child with Autism. Seeing something on the screen before living it out can often be comforting. In Applied Behavior Analysis, we do this through social stories. Additionally, these scenes bring awareness that support groups exist and are a massive aid to any person with autism.

7. A Boy Called Po (available on various services)

A fantasy drama film, A Boy Called Po,” is about an overwhelmed single dad of a child with autism. His son drifts in and out of a fantasy world. Because the boy deals with severe bullying at school, the overworked dad and professionals working with Po fear that the child will soon only live in his imaginative world. Expect tears and moments of wanderlust while watching this one with the family.

8. Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close (available on various services)

Based on the novel of the same name, Extremely Lound & Incredibly Close” is a film about Oskar, a kid suffering from a developmental disorder. After learning of his father’s death on 9/11, he finds a mysterious key and sets out on a journey to find the lock it opens. With outstanding performances by Sandra Bullock and Tom Hanks, this movie will help you see all sides to the struggle and the value of loving relationships. This film is heartwarming and family-friendly. It can also open dialogue between siblings about what makes their experiences unique.

9. My Name is Khan (available on various services)

The film My Name Is Khan tells the story of a Rizwan, a Muslim man on the autism spectrum. Authorities detained him after 9/11 due to his “odd behaviors” and began to suspect him as a terrorist. With the aid of a therapist, he begins the journey of a lifetime to meet President Obama and clear his name.

This movie may be relatable for those with autism because “odd” behaviors are more than just random. They serve some purpose. While it’s unfortunate that this man faced such harsh oppression, his journey inspired thousands to learn more about autism.

10. What’s Eating Gilbert Grape? (available on various services)

Starring Johnny Depp and Leonardo DiCaprio, Gilbert Grape lives in a tiny town where nothing happens. The town’s little interest in anything leads Gilbert to a significant obsession with his brother Arnie, who has autism. They navigate life together and learn new things that bring their brotherhood to a new level of closeness. While this film is a little older, it still made our list because it was moving, profound and thoughtful. Generations to come will enjoy this one!

ABA Therapy

Here at ABA Centers of America, we provide ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis) therapy for people with autism across all age groups. Our goal is to understand a client’s strengths and challenges and then help them develop skills necessary for lifelong success. Contact us to schedule a free consultation.