8 Special Needs Movies/ TV Shows

I’ve put together here a few of the tv shows and movies that I’ve either watched or are currently watching and voiced my opinions on them. Have you seen these? Did you like them? Do you have others you would recommend?

1. The Good Doctor

So I’m currently watching The Good Doctor and overall I really like it. Occasionally the surgeries are a bit too intense. Sometimes when they are going for “raw emotion” I think they just make the characters come off as horrible excuses for humans. People can be mean, rude, or jerks, but occasionally I feel like the writers make their characters come off un-human instead of inhumane.

The writers know how to write drama and how to pack their episodes full of punches. But I like their take on how someone on the spectrum interacts with the people and world around them. The autistic doctor’s feelings are real and at times relatable. I enjoy watching Freddie Highmore’s portrayal of how some people with autism communicate with others. And can I say I’ve enjoyed watching Highmore in other films too? Like August Rush and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory? But I digress.

2. Atypical

I’ve also been a fan of Atypical for the most part. The best friend Zahid means well and can be funny, but I feel like his mouth is unnecessarily vulgar and could be more funny cleaned up a bit. The mom’s marital problems at times seems to take over the show more than I’d like. But the parents parenting stress is relatable and makes me grateful for my always, supportive husband. But even with my great husband I can still relate to the mom’s stress of raising a child with autism. I enjoy watching and hearing the main character Sam’s running narrative of how he sees the world through his autistic view.

3. Speechless

But I gotta say, the special needs show that I loved entirely was, Speechless. It was comical while still sharing truths. It gave insight, it was educational and eye opening without dramatically shoving it in your face and trying to make you feel bad. It made me laugh but also made me go, Yep! That’s exactly right! Speechless also brought words to feelings I’ve had without acknowledging them myself. Like when the character, JJ DiMei had respite care and the parents had a hard time getting away and enjoying themselves because of the guilt they felt, or how the fight for insurance paperwork can be daunting and ridiculous. Overall it was nice and relaxing to watch.

4. The Healing Powers of Dude

The verdict is still out on, The Healing Powers of Dude. I’m only a few episodes in but so far I’ve liked that it’s kid friendly (even if it has too many butt/fart jokes for my taste), and it’s not been too heavy handed.

I’ve enjoyed how this one has been eye opening to Social Anxiety disorder, and once again is relatable to how the main character interacts with the world around him, and it addresses how his parents are feeling about the changes they have to stand back and watch their kid go through. So I think I’m probably going to keep giving this one a chance for the time being.

5. Temple Grandin

Temple Grandin is my go to movie when people ask if I know of any good Autism movies. This one is educational, eye opening, frustrating, emotional, raw, intriguing, and gives some good understanding to those who don’t live with or are regularly around those on the spectrum. This is a true story and a real inspirational one. It’s on my bucket list to listen to the real Temple Grandin speak some day 🤞😊

6. What About Bob

So I haven’t actually watched all of, What About Bob. I watched a clip of it in health class in 6th grade. Bob had severe Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, and with the audience being a bunch of 11 and 12 year old kids, the whole class was cracking up.

I wasn’t, I grew up in a house where I watched someone up close and personal live like Bob and I was angry, mortified, and practically dying in the second row of that classroom. Looking back, I think the movie was supposed to be a comedy and maybe now that I’m not living in that situation I might enjoy the whole movie. I might try to check this one out sometime soon.

7. What’s eating Gilbert Grape

So this one has also been a few years since I watched it last. But from what I remember, What’s eating Gilbert Grape was kind of a stressful movie for me to watch. There was just so much feeling stuck going on. All of the characters seemed to be treading water or imprisoning themselves or other family members instead of trying to better themselves. I enjoyed it enough to finish it, but I remember feeling relieved when it was over too.

8. Rain Man

And lastly, Rain Man. The only reason I even searched out and watched this movie was because of the typical response so many autism parents get when they tell others that their child has autism. Many people respond with, “Oh, like Rain man? So what is your kid really good at?” 🙄 Like all autistic children must be a savant or they can’t possibly exist.

I’ve actually had people ask me that, and with a big smile I’ve told people, “He likes cars, trains, and building with blocks” like that should satisfy their question 😏 With a dumb question, comes a dumb answer 🤭

But honestly, I did enjoy this movie. The man’s life of living in that special home was sad, but for the time there were definitely worse off options. Even today there are worse options of living conditions for those with special needs. But it’s sad to actually see. Still, the movie was entertaining, even if it left me rolling my eyes even harder at those who assume that’s how autism works for everyone. #SpectrumDisorder

So have you watched any of these tv shows or movies? What did you think of them? Do you have any that you would recommend? Let me know in the comments below. Don’t forget to like and share ✌️


  1. I LOVE LOVE LOVE Atypical, so many of their story lines resonate with me. From what I gather, the show’s creator, based Zahid off of himself. I know WAY more guys like him vs Sam and honestly think his vulgar behavior probably WAS toned down for the show lol, but I could be wrong. I like him, he’s real and authentic!! I also think its beautiful that he would create a show around a friend with ASD and chooses to highlight so many wonderful ways to approach different situations (Sam takes a walk) and even thinking about FUTURE situations for my sweet 13 y/o boy, ie getting a girlfrirend! My son was not diagnosed until this past May, even though we were told he was evaluated when he was younger.
    You mentioned growing up with someone living like bob, how did you account for behavior differences, was there a diagnosis or did you just feel there was something different about the person? I feel bad telling ppl to learn in on their intuitions, “Not everyone has ASD SARA!” but i feel like it’s a disservice for me to NOT educate others, especially if behavior therapies can help them!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I like Atypical too 😊 I think the actor who plays Sam actually does have anxiety and has family members who have mentally health problems. So that’s cool that the actor took on that role because of how it was close to his heart like that.


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