Disability Awareness- For Adults

Disability affects all of us, directly or indirectly, at one point or another. Our list of resources are useful for learning about disabilities, how we can talk about them and how we can learn to embrace them! The recommendations below covers a range of disabilities and differences, to help every adult to learn more about the people around us.

TV Shows

  1. Special (TV Show) In its first episode, Ryan (creator Ryan O’Connell) gets hit by a car shortly before starting a job at an obnoxious new-media publication called “eggwoke.” When his co-workers assume that his limp is due to the accident, rather than his cerebral palsy, he’s thrilled that he’s not being pitied for his disability, but for just being an unlucky schmuck. This being a sitcom, he lies to keep up the charade — and hilarity ensues.


  1. Wonder, by R.J. Palacio (book) August Pullman was born with a facial difference that, up until now, has prevented him from going to a mainstream school. Starting 5th grade at Beecher Prep, he wants nothing more than to be treated as an ordinary kid—but his new classmates can’t get past Auggie’s extraordinary face. Wonder, begins from Auggie’s point of view, but soon switches to include his classmates, his sister, her boyfriend, and others. Available here.
  2. Disability Visibility: First-Person Stories from the Twenty-first Century, edited by Alice Wong (book) Some disabilities are visible, others less apparent—but all are underrepresented in media and popular culture. Now, activist Alice Wong brings together this collection of essays by disabled people. From blog posts, manifestos, and eulogies to Congressional testimonies, and beyond: this anthology gives a glimpse into the rich complexity of the disabled experience, highlighting the passions, talents, and everyday lives of this community. Available here.
  3. Look Me in the Eye: My Life with Asperger’s, by John Elder Robison (book) Ever since he was small, John Robison had longed to connect with other people, but by the time he was a teenager, his odd habits—an inclination to blurt out non sequiturs, avoid eye contact, dismantle radios, and dig five-foot holes – had earned him the label “social deviant.”. It was not until he was forty that an insightful therapist told him he had the form of autism called Asperger’s syndrome. That understanding transformed the way Robison saw himself—and the world. Available here.
  4. Out of my mind, by Sharon Draper (book) Melody is not like most people. She cannot walk or talk, but she has a photographic memory; she can remember every detail of everything she has ever experienced. She is smarter than most of the adults who try to diagnose her and smarter than her classmates in her integrated classroom – the very same classmates who dismiss her as mentally challenged because she cannot tell them otherwise. But Melody refuses to be defined by cerebral palsy. And she’s determined to let everyone know it – somehow. Available here.
  5. Sitting Pretty: The View from My Ordinary Resilient Disabled Body, by Rebekah Taussig (book) A memoir-in-essays from disability advocate and creator of the Instagram account @sitting_pretty Rebekah Taussig, processing a lifetime of memories to paint a beautiful, nuanced portrait of a body that looks and moves differently than most. Growing up as a paralyzed girl during the 90s and early 2000s, Rebekah Taussig only saw disability depicted as something monstrous (The Hunchback of Notre Dame), inspirational (Helen Keller), or angelic (Forrest Gump). None of this felt right; and as she got older, she longed for more stories that allowed disability to be complex and ordinary, uncomfortable and fine, painful and fulfilling. Available here.
  6. All the Way to the Top: How One Girl’s Fight for Americans with Disabilities Changed Everything, by Annette Bay Pimentel (book) This book follows lifelong activist Jennifer Keelan-Chaffins and her participation in the Capitol Crawl. Keelan was determined to make a change―even if she was just a kid. She never thought her wheelchair could slow her down, but the way the world around her was built made it hard to do even simple things. When the Americans with Disabilities Act was proposed to Congress, Jennifer went to the steps of the Capitol building in Washington DC to convince them. Available here.


  1. Wonder (film) Based on the New York Times bestseller, this movie tells the incredibly inspiring and heartwarming story of August Pullman, a boy with facial differences who enters the fifth grade, attending a mainstream elementary school for the first time.
  2. The Theory of Everything (film) This film covers the story of Stephen Hawking when he was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. He begins to isolate himself. But literature student Jane Wilde falls in love with him and decides to marry him when she finds out Stephen only has two years to live. Jane eventually delays her own goals to become a full-time caregiver for Stephen. This film shows the emotional side of caregiving- including managing caregiver guilt, stress and exhaustion.
  3. The Intouchables (film) This film is a comedic look at how an unusual friendship develops when a street smart immigrant is hired to take care of a disabled French nobleman. An absolute feel-good movie, it’ll warm up your heart without any intention. The subject is hard but the movie is really funny. In a few seconds you are fully projected within the film from the beginning to the end. 
  4. Elizabeth is Missing (film) Following the life of a dementia patient. A woman with Alzheimer’s grows suspicious when her best friend fails to turn up to meet her. Soon, the flashes of her sister, who disappeared 70 years ago, reel her into an unofficial investigation. The film is an interesting take on the immensely difficult subject of dementia. Glenda Jackson gives a sympathetic and enigmatic performance as an old lady struggling with the present and the past.
  5. Beginners (film) This movie is a father-son story about an elderly man, who is diagnosed with terminal cancer. His son (Ewan McGregor) finds himself supporting his father even though they had not been close in the past. The movie shows the difficulties in caring for an elderly parent when the relationship is strained.
  6. Silver Linings Playbook (film) Pat Solitano, Jr. (Bradley Cooper) becomes admitted to a mental health facility due to his bipolar disorder. His mother decides to take her son home against medical advice and without her husband’s knowledge. The couple then face difficulties whilst dealing with their son’s mental illness. Until a girl, who is also battling a mental illness, showed up in Pat’s life. Though not completely realistic, the movie offers a glimpse into the challenges caregivers face when caring for adults with mental health issues. It also addresses that having a strategy and a support system are both beneficial in helping patients with mental illness.
  7. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (film) This film drama is a real-life account of Jean-Dominique Bauby after a massive stroke left him paralyzed with locked-in syndrome. Unable to speak, the former French “Elle” magazine editor-in-chief composes his book: “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly”. He does so with the painstaking aid of his speech and language therapist reading a list of letters and Bauby blinking his left eyelid to spell out words. The biographical movie illustrates how Bauby’s children, his girlfriend/mother of his children and his former wife all come together to undergird him through his unthinkable hardship. It shows that caregiving does take a village.
  8. Forrest Gump (film) Forrest, a man with low IQ, recounts the early years of his life when he found himself in the middle of key historical events. All he wants now is to be reunited with his childhood sweetheart, Jenny. Forrest Gump is depicted at the beginning of the film as being born with a crooked spine and being intellectually disabled. Although he is able to overcome the physical disability, he still exhibits his intellectual disability throughout his life.
  9. Still Alice (film) Caring for a family member with early-onset Alzheimer’s. When linguistics professor Alice Howland starts to forget her beloved words, her world quickly spins with the harsh reality: early-onset Alzheimer’s. An adaptation of Lisa Genova’s acclaimed 2007 novel. The movie transparently represents Alice’s battle to hide her neurological disease. Julianne Moore’s award-winning performance in the movie demonstrates the cognitive decline Alzheimer’s patients experience. And the challenges family caregivers must tackle on a daily basis.
  10. The Descendants (film) Caring for an end of life patient. The Descendants is a story about a man raising his teenage daughters after his wife is in a boating accident that leaves her in a coma. The movie deals with some of the end-of-life issues that caregivers sometimes find themselves involved in. It also looks at the emotional responses a husband and children have towards their mother’s accident. And shows that there is often more problems in how people deal with a crisis, than just the situation itself.
  11. The Upside (film) Caring for a quadriplegia patient. A take on “The Intouchables” with a relationship between a wealthy man with quadriplegia and an unemployed man with a criminal record who’s hired to help care for him. Unlike the other movies on this list, The Upside doesn’t go as deep into care. It is also unrealistic compared to the other movies listed due to the circumstances portrayed. However, it’s humour and wholesome moments does well to represent the relationship between a carer and patient. Phillip is a wealthy quadriplegic who needs a caretaker to help him with his day-to-day routine in his New York penthouse. He decides to hire Dell, a struggling parolee who’s trying to reconnect with his ex and his young son. Despite coming from two different worlds, an unlikely friendship starts to blossom as Dell and Phillip rediscover the joy of living life to the fullest.
  12. Kills on Wheels (film) Following a pair of disabled twenty something’s taken under the wing of a wheelchair-bound hit man. This is a meaningful action-comedy of a wheelchair-bound assassin gang. Driven by despair and fear of becoming useless, a 20 year-old boy, his friend, and an ex-fireman offer their services to the mafia. But things are not what they seem. The boundaries between reality and fiction blur and the story becomes a whirling kaleidoscope showing us gangsters and gunfights, but also the challenge of life in a wheelchair and the pain caused by a father’s rejection.
  13. Crip Camp (film). Documentary on the fight for the accessibility legislation. This documentary starts in 1971 at Camp Jened, a summer camp in New York described as a “loose, free-spirited camp designed for teens with disabilities”. The film focuses on those campers who turned themselves into activists for the disability rights movement and follows their fight for accessibility legislation. A beautifully edited collection of convicting memories, capturing a completely forgotten piece of cultural history. And illuminating the immense effect this one, relatively small, group of people had on American history. It’s packed full with the kindness of humanity.
  14. I Am Me (film). Caring for a young adult with Autism and other learning disabilities. Tells the story of 24 year old Charlie. A young man with a learning disability and autism. The story begins as Charlie is moving into his own flat. With Charlie’s mum being ill and struggling with his care, Charlie’s older brother is keen that he takes steps towards living a more independent life. A hard hitting and emotional film that explores many complex issues surrounding the effects of disability hate crime. The movie is magnificent in getting the message and awareness across in the wider circle and public eye.

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