As cooler weather closes in, sometimes it’s nice to sit back, cuddle up, and enjoy a movie. Why not end the movie having learned something, too?

We polled our staff for their favorite movies about disabilities – the ones that made them more compassionate, that helped them understand, and that changed their attitudes. Here’s what they said:

The Other Sister

the-other-sister“It is older, but it is about a woman who has a disability yet she eventually lives on her own and marries the love of her life. It demonstrates all the battles she faces against the lawmakers, her parents, and the general community. It really shows why the dignity of risk is so important for us all. We as supports and advocates often overprotect individuals with disabilities, which holds them back from living the life they want too.” – Matthew Hescock, Regional Manager of Developmental Services

Sound and Fury

sounds-and-fury“It’s a documentary about deafness, deaf culture, cochlear implants, family and so on. I think it’s an incredible movie. If I remember correctly, it follows a mostly deaf family with one hearing child and a mostly hearing family with on deaf child. Amazing twists and turns and thought-provoking insights ensue.” – Dan Montgomery, Communications & Marketing Assistant

Finding Nemo

finding-nemo“This movie in particular is so accessible to children. Even though Nemo has a small fin and Dory suffers from short-term memory loss, the movie focuses on their courage. Their disabilities don’t define them, they’re just part of who they are.” – Meghan Prichard, Web/New Media Specialist

What’s Eating Gilbert Grape and A Beautiful Mind

whats-eating-gilbert-grape“In each they show real emotions their loved ones have towards the disabilities that sometimes aren’t always out in the open – anger, frustration, sadness, etc. These emotions aren’t always talked about in society. Having these emotions does not mean you care less or love less – it’s only human. I think it’s important to show all sides of living with disabilities both from the individual’s point of view and their loved ones. I love how each of these movies do show those raw emotions and how they also realize the importance of encouragement, empowerment and love in order to help them have rewarding and fulfilled lives. Also knowing that they are just as loved and important, even if they may be little different.” – Jennifer Jackson, Executive Assistant for Programs

Wretches and Jabberers

wretches-and-jabberers“There are so many great films about disability. One of my favorites that I talk about any chance I get is called Wretches and Jabberers. It is a documentary about two men, Tracy Thresher and Larry Bissonnette, both disability rights advocates, both of whom have autism. In the film, they trathe world to meet other people with autism, and change attitudes! It also has an awesome soundtrack!” – Lisa Morgan, VP for Strategic Program Development

Educating Peter

educating-peter“There is a short documentary film called Educating Peter. It’s about a special needs student with Down Syndrome and his inclusion in a standard classroom. He is from Blacksburg, VA. I really enjoyed it!” – Tasha Saul, Billing & PR Specialist


mask“It was from the mid 80’s about a teenager who was born with abnormal facial and cranium features. The love that the mother gives to her son is unconditional despite his disability. Also, the mother’s biker friends protected her son and treated him as a normal teenager even though he was looked at as not “normal” because of his facial features. As a result he was bullied for it by people who didn’t know him. I think many of today’s teenagers could relate to feeling different or bullied. This would be a great movie for high school teenagers and maybe mature middle school students as well. It’s a great movie about hope and courage.” – Maurice Gallimore, Resource Family Coordinator

Good Will Hunting

good-will-hunting“It’s about a young man who grew up in an abusive, poverty-stricken family. An absolutely brilliant, moving and charming film that shows how anybody can truly shine when they set aside their emotional difficulties no matter how great they may be!” – William Wheatley, Educational Aide

Children of a Lesser God and Rain Man

children-of-a-lesser-god“Both are about the way we form enduring relationships, the need for empowerment, and the power of understanding and love.” – Carole Todd, VP of Communications & Marketing




…and then there’s one bonus television show:



“There is a brand new ABC sitcom that is blowing my mind called Speechless. It is a must see. It is a light-hearted, comedy that depicts several obstacles that individuals with significant disabilities face everyday, along with showing the struggles that parents, siblings, family units, schools, and aides face to provide the person they are caring for with an inclusive life.” – Kimberly Irvin, Educational Coordinator