Movies—whether pure fantasy or based on fact—aren’t just magical entertainment. They can also be a source of insight and valuable life lessons.

In general, the portrayals of people with disabilities in movies have tended to be at one extreme or another: from the cute, but pitiful Tiny Tim personas, to the bad guy personas, like Captain Hook and the villains in many James Bond movies. In the last decade or so, films portraying people with disabilities as “real people,” instead of as caricatures, have hit the theaters. Still, the majority of these, in my opinion, include some degree of the stereotypical, mythical, and negative inferences that perpetuate old attitudes and perceptions.


My two favorite films about people with disabilities are Born on the Fourth of July and My Left Foot. Both are based on true stories, and both aptly demonstrate that individuals with disabilities are—like everyone else—multifaceted individuals.


X-Men is practically a metaphor for today’s disability issues: people with differences (but who also have wonderful abilities) are misunderstood, feared, and segregated . . .Click here to continue.

Finding Nemo is, perhaps, the movie with the greatest number of lessons for us all—and this movie isn’t just for children! Nemo is about (1) inclusion, (2) seeing beyond differences, (3) focusing on strengths and abilities, (4) parents letting go, (5) natural supports, (6) the dangers of segregation, (7) the importance of community, and much more.

Kathie Snow

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