Autism Every Day (2007): Sundance Docu of Families Raising Children with Autism

Sundance Film Fest 2007—Autism Every Day, a documentary that takes viewers inside the lives of families struggling to raise children with autism, has been selected as a special screening (out of competition) film.  The event was followed by a special autism awareness panel featuring the filmmakers and parents who appear with their children in the documentary.

“Autism Every Day” is a truthful, unvarnished portrayal of the 24-hour-a-day challenges faced by families as they confront the heartbreak of autism with uncompromising hope and unconditional love.   The film was directed by Lauren Thierry of the October Group and co-produced by Ms. Thierry and Eric Solomon of Milestone Video.  Funding for the film was provided by Autism Speaks.  Autism Speaks co-founders Bob and Suzanne Wright served as executive producers of the film. Autism Speaks Senior Vice President Alison Singer served as executive in charge of production.

“Autism Every Day” follows a cross-section of families, families representing the upper and lower ends of the financial spectrum and different ethnic backgrounds, whose lives have been turned inside out by an epidemic that the Centers for Disease Control estimates is diagnosed in 1 in 166 children.  Each family’s story blends together in an unrelentingly similar quilt: parents who have had to both quit careers and borrow outlandish sums of money to pay for therapies and schools; the staggering reality of letting go of traditional dreams for their children–little league, trips, dating–in exchange for the joy of a child finally being able to brush his teeth at age 6 or a 9 year-old who has learned to say “l love you, mommy.”

The documentary’s opening montage shows children struggling to communicate, screaming, and one child dashing down the street unaware of the speeding traffic ahead.  A family with three children on the autism spectrum recounts having to quit friendships with people who don’t understand the 24/7 demands of a five year-old who has yet to utter a single word or the weekly 40-50 hours of therapies that are not reimbursed by insurance.  A hole in the roof goes un-repaired for two years as they borrow yet again against their home.

As one mother so eloquently explains, “He is trying so hard to stay inside himself and I am trying so hard to pull him out.  I can never die; I have to live forever.”  But Autism Every Day also captures the unconditional, powerful love of the exhausted, not-to-be-broken parents.  Its candid portrait somehow reminds us that where there is love there is hope, and that hope brings with it the joys of even the smallest successes.


About Autism

Autism is a complex brain disorder that inhibits a person’s ability to communicate and develop social relationships, and is often accompanied by extreme behavioral challenges. Autism spectrum disorders are diagnosed in one in 166 children, affecting four times as many boys as girls. The diagnosis of autism has increased tenfold in the last decade. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have called autism a national public health crisis whose cause and cure remain unknown.

“We are honored to have Autism Every Day selected for special recognition in this year’s Sundance Film Festival, reflecting the Sundance Institute’s on-going tradition of screening films that reflect the most important issues facing our society,” said Bob and Suzanne Wright. “This film provides a vivid window into the unique challenges — the hopes and frustrations — of the hundreds of thousands of individuals and families like ours affected by autism in this country.”

“My family has been touched directly by the autism epidemic and living with the day-to-day struggles and joys was enough motivation for us to get this film made,” said Thierry, whose son Liam is diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

About Autism Speaks

Autism Speaks is dedicated to increasing awareness of the growing autism epidemic and to raising money to fund scientists who are searching for a cure.  It was founded in February 2005 by Suzanne and Bob Wright.  Bob Wright is Vice Chairman and Executive Officer, General Electric, and Chairman and CEO, NBC Universal.  Autism Speaks and Cure Autism Now (CAN) recently announced plans to combine operations, bringing together the two leading organizations dedicated to accelerating and funding biomedical research into the causes, prevention, treatments and cure for autism spectrum disorders; to increasing awareness of the nation’s fastest growing developmental disorder; and to advocating for the needs of affected families. To learn more about Autism Speaks, please visit