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7 must-watch movies if you’re a parent with an autistic child

7 must-watch movies if you’re an autism parent

Updated: January 5, 2024 · 6 Minute Read

Amy Gong

Reviewed by:

Amy Gong, Neurodiversity Advocate


  • Temple Grandin is arguably the most famous autistic woman alive. Watch the movie “Temple Grandin” to learn more about her.
  • Our list also includes romcoms about autistic people as well as films based on real life events and documentaries.
  • Disney Pixar’s “Inside Out” has been praised for its visual representation of emotions and its usefulness as a tool to help children with autism talk about and understand emotions.

7 must-watch movies if you're an autism parent

Whether you’re looking for a nice romantic comedy, prefer something a bit more dramatic, or need something you can enjoy with the kiddos, one of the movies on our list is sure to hit the spot. We’ve compiled a list of some of the best films for parents of autistic children to watch, from documentaries to cartoons and everything in between. So grab your popcorn, turn down the lights and cozy up on the couch for a nice movie night.


If you enjoy inspirational biographies…

Temple Grandin



Hulu, HBO Max, YouTube, Google Play, & Apple TV | Biography & Drama | PG | 1hr 47m


Based on Temple Grandin’s memoirs Emergence and Thinking in Pictures, this HBO film tells the story of how Grandin found her passion and the early years of her career. The film starts just before Grandin enrolls in college when she visits her Aunt Ann’s cattle ranch. It is on her aunt’s ranch that she discovers her passion for cattle and first begins to demonstrate a talent for all things mechanical. Grandin goes on to overcome prejudice, sexism, and any other obstacles she faced to revolutionize the treatment of livestock on ranches and in slaughterhouses.


If you’re interested in understanding the non-verbal experience…

The Reason I Jump



Netflix, Amazon Prime, YouTube, Google Play, & Apple TV | Documentary | 1hr 22m


Based on the best-selling book, The Reason I Jump, written by Naoki Higashida at only 13, this documentary explores the lives of five young non-speaking autistic individuals from around the world. Director Jerry Rothwell blends these individuals’ unique stories with Higashida’s insights into autism.


The film has been described as an immersive experience and from the early stages of production, Rothwell knew he wanted to give the audience a never before seen peek into the inner workings of the autistic mind. Rothwell achieves this through clever camera work and visuals.


If you’re looking for a family-friendly movie that can help your child understand their emotions…

Inside Out



Disney+, Amazon Prime, YouTube, Google Play, & Redbox | Adventure, Animation, & Family | PG | 1hr 35m


While Inside Out may not specifically discuss autism, the film has been praised by both parents and professionals for how it can help autistic individuals. Because many autistic individuals are visual thinkers, the visual representation of emotions provides children, and parents, with a new way to understand and discuss their own emotions. The film can also help children understand other people’s emotions too.


Inside Out tells the story of the emotions of Riely, a happy 11-year-old midwestern girl, whose life is turned upside down when her family moves to San Francisco. Riley’s emotions, Sadness, Anger, Fear, and Disgust, led by Joy, try to help her navigate this difficult life change.


For an inspiring true story…

Miracle Run



Amazon Prime | Biography & Drama | PG | 2hr


Based on a true story, Miracle Run stars Zac Efron and Mary-Louise Parker and follows the story of a single mother raising her autistic twin boys. The film can be broken up into two parts. The first part of the film focuses on the children’s autism diagnosis at the age of 5, following multiple misdiagnoses. During this time the children begin working with different therapists to improve their communication and social skills. The second part of the film then jumps ahead 10 years to the boys’ high school experience, where one son finds a passion for athletics and the other discovers his musical talent.


If you believe in the power of movies…

Life, Animated



Amazon Prime, YouTube, Google Play, & Apple TV | Documentary | PG | 1hr 32m


Life, Animated is a documentary about Owen Suskind and his relationship with Disney animated movies. Diagnosed with autism at the age of 3, Owen began to withdraw into a silent state. His family struggled to interact with him until they discovered Owen’s love for Disney animated movies. The documentary explores how Disney films helped Owen understand the world around him and learn communication skills.


If you’re interested in a film that tackles the struggles of being a special needs parent…

A Boy Called Po



Amazon Prime, YouTube, Google Play, & Apple TV | Drama & Fantasy | PG | 1hr 35m


Based on true events, A Boy Called Po follows the story of a young widow and his autistic son Patrick, who prefers to be called “Po.” After David Wilson’s wife passes from cancer he becomes the sole caregiver for his sixth-grade son, Po. Although gifted, Po struggles socially and is unable to communicate his own sense of loss following his mother’s death. This causes him to withdraw into his own world creating an even larger rift between him and his struggling father.


If you enjoy romantic comedies…

Keep the Change



Amazon Prime, YouTube, Google Play, & Apple TV | Comedy & Romance | NR | 1hr 34m


A slightly more adult film than many others on this list, Keep the Change is a romantic comedy filled with actually autistic individuals. While many films start with a script this film began with the cast. Years prior to shooting, the film director Rachel Israel put together her cast of non-professional actors with autism. She then worked with her cast to create fictional versions of themselves. Israel then used those characters to build her story.


Keep the Change follows the relationship between David and Sarah. The two meet when a judge mandates David to attend a social program at the Jewish Community Center. Throughout the film David and Sarah’s relationship is challenged by Sarah’s romantic past, David’s judgemental mother, and the couple’s own preconceptions of what love is supposed to look like.


Did your favorite film make our list? Join us in the Beaming Community and share with us your thoughts and any films we may have missed!