Archived | Autism Speaks: Autism: The Musical Screens Nationwide | Circa August 2007 #NotAnAutisticAlly

Autism: The Musical

Autism: The Musical has been filling up theatres, picking up awards, and garnering standing ovations since its premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival in April.

The New York Times called it “a marvelous new documentary” and HBO agreed – acquiring the film for an April ’08 broadcast premiere.

The film is on the Oscar watch list — and you have an opportunity to see it over the next few months in cities around the country during its theatrical run to qualify for the Academy Award. 

Autism Speaks is hosting events in selected cities – keep an eye out for e-mails from your local chapter.

Please come out and support our film and all our kids with autism – who surprise us each and every day.

Screening Dates and Locations 
(Check with the theater for screening times) 

Sept. 10-12 – Denver, Colorado 
Sept. 12-14 – Litchfield, Connecticut
Sept. 14-16 – Seattle, Washington
Sept. 17-19 – S. Burlington, Vermont 
Sept. 17-19 – Portland, Oregon
Sept. 17-19 – Salt Lake City, Utah
Sept. 21-23 – Indianapolis, Indiana
Sept. 25-27- Minneapolis, Minnesota
Oct. 8-10 – Tucson, Arizona
Oct. 9-11 – Durham, North Carolina
Oct. 16-18 – Chicago, Illinois
Oct. 23-25 – San Francisco, California
Nov. 5-7 – Boston, Massachusetts

Archived | Review: ‘Autism: the Musical’

Vanity Fair

by Ronnie Scheib

Eloquently attesting to the transformative power of theater, “Autism: The Musical,” an upbeat docu about putting on a musical for, with and by autistic children, proves as riveting as it is revelatory.

Eloquently attesting to the transformative power of theater, “Autism: The Musical,” an upbeat docu about putting on a musical for, with and by autistic children, proves as riveting as it is revelatory.

With diagnosed cases of the disease rapidly escalating in America throughout the last decade, this docu’s exploration of alternative methods of treatment seems opportune, not to mention downright joyous at times. Moving, dramatic, therapeutic and unburdened by reliance on talking heads, uplifting “Musical” could claim a real shot at limited arthouse distribution before it finds a home on the small screen.

(Note: Autism is NOT a disease.)

Like Scott Kennedy’s “OT: Our Town,” about a socially disadvantaged group of kids mounting an amateur theatrical production against all odds, Tricia Regan’s film skillfully weaves the lives of its subjects around progressive stages of rehearsals over a period of six months — creating an organic arc that allows for a tremendous degree of information to be dispensed within the evolving storyline.

Each time the camera returns to a new run-through, the viewer has been granted increased familiarity and greater identification with the kids and their parents. As the film concerns a process of socialization whereby isolated figures onstage learn to relate to one another, so the film’s unfolding structure effects a process of socialization for the audience.

Pic has virtually no exposition per se. It is the parents who serve as the conduits to their children and, in amazingly candid one-on-ones with helmer-lenser Regan, lay bare the difficulties and rewards of dealing with an autistic child. The parents also provide a startling amount of camcorder footage that illustrates their testimony, as homemovies show their offspring in seemingly normal infancy before gradually exhibiting more erratic behavior. Even the film’s central figure, innovative educator and children’s acting coach Elaine Hall, is herself the mother of an autistic child who appears in the play-within-the-film.

As the docu makes blindingly clear, autism is rightly understood as an umbrella term that encompasses an astonishing range of symptoms; not only is each child very different, but so is his or her disease. Supposedly normal ways of evaluating subjects’ individual capacities can quickly become invalid. In one of the pic’s most surprising moments, Elaine’s son Neal, a severely autistic kid who does not speak, manages to focus long enough to utilize a keyboarded voicebox, unexpectedly revealing an almost sardonic control of language.

(Note: Autism is NOT a disease. It’s a developmental difference and disability.)

Regan primarily focuses on five children and their parents, and not the least of the pic’s accomplishments is that all five kids’ one-of-a-kind quirks and temperaments are fully experienced without excessive reference to medical terminology or anything extrinsic. By the time it’s revealed that one of the fathers is Stephen Stills, the information seems entirely secondary to his son’s unique personality and encyclopedic knowledge of dinosaurs. With nary a throbbing violin (though one boy plays the cello), pic manifests each child’s value, minimizing neither their undoubted potential nor their very real problems.

Docu’s feeling of intimacy is greatly enhanced by Regan’s ability to do her own lensing and by one particular girl’s smiling, out-of-the-corner-of-her-eye complicity with the camera.

Autism: the Musical


A Bunim-Murray production in association with In Effect Films. Produced by Perrin Chiles, Tricia Regan, Sasha Alpert. Executive producers, Jonathan Murray, Janet Grillo, David S. Glynn, Kristen Stills, Joey Carson. Directed by Tricia Regan.


Camera (color, DV), Regan; editor, Kim Roberts; music, Mike Semple; music supervisor, Dave Stone; sound, Robert Claycombe; associate producers, Zoe Carke-Williams, Claycombe. Reviewed at Tribeca Film Festival (Discovery), April 29, 2007. Running time: 94 MIN.


Elaine Hall, Adam, Henry, Lexi, Neal, Wyatt.


Autistic people have fought the inclusion of ABA in therapy for us since before Autism Speaks, and other non-Autistic-led autism organizations, started lobbying legislation to get it covered by insurances and Medicaid. 

ABA is a myth originally sold to parents that it would keep their Autistic child out of an institution. Today, parents are told that with early intervention therapy their child will either be less Autistic or no longer Autistic by elementary school, and can be mainstreamed in typical education classes. ABA is very expensive to pay out of pocket. Essentially, Autism Speaks has justified the big price tag up front will offset the overall burden on resources for an Autistic’s lifetime. The recommendation for this therapy is 40 hours a week for children and toddlers.

The original study that showed the success rate of ABA to be at 50% has never been replicated. In fact, the study of ABA by United States Department of Defense was denounced as a failure. Not just once, but multiple times. Simply stated: ABA doesn’t workIn study after repeated study: ABA (conversion therapy) doesn’t work. 

What more recent studies do show: Autistics who experienced ABA therapy are at high risk to develop PTSD and other lifelong trauma-related conditions. Historically, the autism organizations promoting ABA as a cure or solution have silenced Autistic advocates’ opposition. ABA is also known as gay conversion therapy.

The ‘cure’ for Autistics not born yet is the prevention of birth. 

The ‘cure’ is a choice to terminate a pregnancy based on ‘autism risk.’ The cure is abortion. This is the same ‘cure’ society has for Down Syndrome. 

This is eugenics 2021. Instead of killing Autistics and disabled children in gas chambers or ‘mercy killings’ like in Aktion T4, it’ll happen at the doctor’s office, quietly, one Autistic baby at a time. Different approaches yes, but still eugenics and the extinction of an entire minority group of people.

Fact: You can’t cure Autistics from being Autistic.

Fact: You can’t recover an Autistic from being Autistic.

Fact: You can groom an Autistic to mask and hide their traits. Somewhat. … however, this comes at the expense of the Autistic child, promotes Autistic Burnout (this should not be confused with typical burnout, Autistic Burnout can kill Autistics), and places the Autistic child at high risk for PTSD and other lifelong trauma-related conditions.

[Note: Autism is NOT a disease, but a neurodevelopmental difference and disability.]

Fact: Vaccines Do Not Cause Autism.

Explore Autistic History

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