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I’m an easy sell for watching most musicals, but I especially appreciate the art form when it celebrates the best of humanity and the redemptive power of the creative process. HBO’s latest documentary “Autism: The Musical” does both of those things as it tracks the lives of several autistic children who become involved in the unlikely task of producing a musical.
The documentary– which aired Tuesday but can be watched in repeats or streamed online—isn’t sappy and it isn’t satirical (something I was afraid of with HBO attached to the project). Instead, it provides some hope regarding what children with autism can do if they are in the right environment, and it challenges the generic notions of what it means to have a disability like autism.


“Autism: The Musical” features five autistic children who become part of a program called The Miracle Project. At The Miracle Project , one woman, Elaine Hall, defies the odds—well , some of the time— by doggedly trying to
incorporate the abilities of these children, however limited, into a theater production.
But this documentary doesn’t have as many warm fuzzy moments as you might think. The film shows the harsh realities of raising children with autism and the sheer frustration in caregiving that is unique to this disorder. The stage production at the close of the movie is not a staggering work of genius, but it is still inspirational and honorable in its attempt to bring a little more dignity and meaning to the lives of these children.

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