Autism Movies

Reviewed by:
Hannah Andreasen
M.Ed BCBA

January 16, 2023

Depictions of autism in movies have become more common as autism awareness grows. Movies and TV shows with characters that have autistic traits can help individuals with autism relate to the characters and be educational for those without autism. 

Although the representation of autism in movies may not always be accurate, it can still be helpful to see people like yourself in the movies and TV you watch and provide opportunities for families to discuss difficult subjects. Movies can also combat harmful stereotypes and increase self-esteem. Studies suggest that seeing others like yourself on TV may increase self-esteem. 

The following list of movies spans the past 30 years and includes many different genres. 

12 Movies to Watch With Children With Autism 

The name of the movie, why you should watch this movie, where the movie is available to watch, length, age rating, and the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) rating out of 10 is listed for each title. Remember that streaming services can update their library of movies frequently, so a movie’s availability may change. 

1. Inside Out (2015)

Why watch this movie?

Although this movie isn’t directly about autism, it is a great way of learning about different emotions and the role they play in dealing with sensory overload or other stressful situations.  

Where to watch: Disney+

Length: 1 hour 35 minutes 

Age rating: PG

IMDb rating: 8.2/10

2. Frozen (2013)

Why watch this movie?

Frozen is a much beloved Disney movie with many classic earworm songs. It also features a character that highlights common experiences of autism in girls

Where to watch: Disney +

Length: 1 hour 42 minutes 

Age rating: PG

IMDb rating: 7.4/10

3. Lilo & Stitch (2002)

Why watch this movie?

Although this movie does not directly identify any characters with autism, many children can identify certain traits they may identify with. This movie may also provide some insight into how a child with autism may feel in the world. 

Where to watch: Disney+

Length: 1 hour 25 minutes 

Age rating: PG

IMDb rating: 7.3/10

4. Pablo (2017-2020)

Why watch this show?

Pablo is a TV show featuring a boy with autism, named Pablo. Pablo draws animal friends to help him deal with the challenges of daily life. Each of the animals he draws represents a different aspect of autism. This show features Pablo’s differences in seeing the world.

Where to watch: Netflix

Length: 20 minutes per episode, 105 episodes 

Age rating: TV-Y

IMDb rating: 7.8/10

5. Back to the Future (1985)

Why watch this movie?

Back to the Future is a classic movie featuring two main characters with autistic traits. Join their adventure as they accidentally travel 30 years in the past and struggle to return to the future. 

Where to watch: Roku

Length: 1 hour 56 minutes

Age rating: PG

IMDb rating: 8.5/10

6. Jack of the Red Hearts (2015)

Why watch this movie?

Jack of the Red Hearts is a great family movie showing what it’s like for children with autism and their families. 

Where to watch: Available to rent

Length: 1 hour 42 minutes

Age rating: PG

IMDb rating: 7/10

7. Life, Animated (2016)

Why watch this movie?

This documentary is a coming-of-age story about a boy with autism who used Disney animated movies to express himself.

Where to watch: DirectTV and Tubi

Length: 1 hour 32 minutes 

Age rating: PG

IMDb rating: 7.50/10 

8. Miracle Run (2004)

Why watch this movie?

This movie follows a single mother of twins who is struggling with the stigma associated with an autism diagnosis. The film features the benefits of autism therapy. 

Where to watch: tubi and Roku

Length: 1 hour 27 minutes 

Age rating: PG

IMDb rating: 7.3/10

9. The Boy Who Could Fly (1986)

Why watch this movie?

This movie follows two teenagers who befriend their neighbor who has autism and is also nonverbal. Their neighbor exhibits stereotypic behaviors, such as flapping, leading them to believe he can fly. 

Where to watch: Available to rent 

Length: 1 hour 54 minutes 

Age rating: PG

IMDb rating: 6.5/10 

10. Little Man Tate (1991)

Why watch this movie?

This movie follows a gifted boy who has autism as he and his mother attempt to meet his intellectual and emotional needs. 

Where to watch: Tubi

Length: 1 hour 39 minutes 

Age rating: PG

IMDb rating: 6.6/10

11. Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971)

Why watch this movie?

This movie follows a young boy who has won a coveted golden ticket to visit Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory. Children and adults may see familiar autistic traits in the eccentric chocolate factory owner such as his intense interest in chocolate. 

Where to watch: Available to rent

Length: 1 hour 40 minutes 

Age rating: G

IMDb rating: 7.8/10

12. Temple Grandin (2010)

Why watch this movie?

This is an inspirational biopic of Temple Grandin, a woman with ASD who became one of the top scientists in her field. 

Where to watch: HBO Max

Length: 1 hour 48 minutes 

Age rating: TV-PG

IMDb rating: 8.2/10

Conclusion

Movies provide a great opportunity for a fun night of family bonding. They can also increase a child’s self-esteem when they see characters who are like themselves on the screen. Movies can also help families and children learn about the experiences of others and talk about difficult issues.

If you are looking for high-quality autism therapy, ‍Songbird Therapy can help. We are a technology-enabled provider setting a higher standard for children’s autism care. With a deeply passionate team and innovative technology, we’re building a world where every child can access world-class care at home, uniquely tailored to them.

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