Parents' Guide to

Autism: The Sequel

By Joyce Slaton, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 13+

Moving, frank docu follows musical stars into adulthood.

Movie NR 2020 40 minutes
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Frank and enormously moving, this update of Autism: The Musical illuminates how things have gone for the participants as they've moved into adulthood in ways both heartbreaking and impressive. Inevitably, the concerns of the parents we met in The Musical have matured along with their kids. Where they once worried about their kids fitting in, making friends, and being happy, now they struggle with how much independence to give their kids, and, more darkly, speculate on how their lives might go once their parents are gone. Lexi's parents are reassured by how well their daughter has settled into a group home for women; Adam's parents are amazed that their son is able to attend an art school and live independently in a different city; Neal's parents have accepted that their son will always need some sort of care, and so they save their money to go into a trust for him after they've gone. Still, Neal's mom Elaine has existential fears: "Who will love him when I'm gone?" she asks plaintively.

The result is fascinating and absorbing in the way real life thoughtfully curated is. Viewers will empathize with everyone featured, though not "uplifted" in that icky way that some stories about people with disabilities can sometimes set off. When Neal, who is nonverbal, asks how he feels being part of a documentary that others will see and know part of his life, he types "I'm grateful there will be people out there who will see me as more than a charity case." As a look at the struggles of particular people who in all the important ways are really quite ordinary, Autism: The Sequel is a triumph.

Movie Details

  • In theaters: April 28, 2020
  • On DVD or streaming: April 28, 2020
  • Director: Tricia Regan
  • Studio: HBO
  • Genre: Documentary
  • Character Strengths: Empathy, Teamwork
  • Run time: 40 minutes
  • MPAA rating: NR
  • Last updated: March 2, 2022

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