Special Needs in Movies and TV - Today's Mama

Special Needs in Movies and TV

There haven’t been a lot of television shows or movies that deal with aspects of special needs
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Fortunately, that is changing.  NBC’s “Parenthood”has a child with Aspberger’s Syndrome (one of the autism spectrums).  This show has highlighted some of the challenges and some happy moments that families have with Aspberger’s children.   In my opinion, it has allowed more dialogue to occur about this sometimes frustrating and exhausting struggle in families.  Although the child doesn’t have Asperger’s Syndrome in real life, he has discussed on many occasions how he has had to study other children who have it.

Mary and Max -This is not your usual movie going fare since it is an Indie picture and a foreign film all wrapped up in one unique story.  It is done all in stop motion animation and is sometimes hard to stay focused, but the storyline is heartbreaking and touching.  Mary and Max stumble across each other in letters touching each other’s hearts and lives.  Max has Asperger’s Syndrome and the movie really touches on how it affects his daily life and how he sees the world.  If you ever wondered about the complexities of this disability, this is a must see movie.

Only God Could Hear Me – This is a documentary about 4 people who live with hearing disabilities and how they cope in a hearing world.  It showcases a special program for them to use to assist with living and coping in the world.  I haven’t seen this movie, but I have heard it is interesting.

Glee -This show has showcased an actress who has down syndrome.  The show has her interacting with all of the characters in some respect and her storyline was added not long after the show began.  If you can get beyond the teen angst, this show actually shows that someone with disabilities can be a star.

Touch – This is a new show from Fox that I am really looking forward to seeing.  If you are a fan of 24, then it is a must see because of Kiefer Sutherland.  His son is mute but their connection is through numbers and how he sees the world.  It really is interesting in how they try to connect and communicate.

Autism:  The Musical – Although this documentary was done about 5 years ago, it is still an important movie for parents of autistic children.  The movie is based on 5 autistic children that work together to make a musical. It won 2 Primetime Emmys in 2007 and is recognized as a great inspiration for parents who are grappling with some of the issues of normalcy.

These are just some of the many, many films, shows and plays that are being produced now.  It is nice to see our children portrayed in a way that other children can see that they just want to have friends and “be normal.”  As a parent, it’s easy to dismiss something as just strictly entertainment and some of the above are mostly entertainment.  But this is a topic that has long been taboo, off-limits, or misunderstood.  It’s refreshing to see these children and adults portrayed in such positive and engaging ways.  Enjoy these selections.  If you have some other favorites, please feel free to post them in your comments and share what you loved about them.