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MPM staff picks: Movies, TV shows and books about disability

It seems we’re all spending a bit more of our spare time at home lately, so the team at My Plan Manager got together to share our top tips on the best reading or viewing options that put a spotlight on disability. Whether you want to relate to an experience like your own or learn more about a part of the disability community you’re not as familiar with, we think this is a list worth working your way through.

Image is Ryan O'Connell (Special main character) with glasses on. He is smiling and has his hands covering his ears

1. Special

Netflix’s Special is a TV series written and acted by Ryan O’Connell based on his memoir. Ryan – an American disability and LGBTQI activist in real life – plays a gay man living with cerebral palsy, who goes after the life he wants when he starts his new internship.

– Phoebe (Finance team)

2. Hannah Gadsby: Nanette

Image is Hannah Gadsby: Nanette cover of Netflix show. Hannah is pictured wearing black glasses.

Hannah Gadsby’s Nanette is a live comedy performance which debuted in 2017. Originally from Tasmania, Gadsby offers comedic social commentary and life lessons. She is a part of the LGBTQI community and has lived experience of disability.

“I found it to be a comedic outlook on some real life issues issues.” – Philly (Relationships team)

3. Hannah Gadsby: Douglas

Image is Hannah Gadsby: Douglas cover of Netflix show. Hannah is pictured wearing black glasses and a navy suit jacket.

Douglas is another comedy performance by Hannah Gadsby which puts a comedic outlook on real issues in our society. The show is named after Gadsby’s dog, and is based around an encounter at her local dog park.

– Kate (Accounts team)

4. Neuro Tribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity by Steve Silberman

Image is Neuro Tribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity book cover.

“Neurotribes is an innovative book that for the first time gathers all the historical development of the discovery, theories, “treatment” and finally, an acceptance of autism as a neurological difference that is not a condition to be treated, but a state of being to be accepted and supported. Being autistic myself, it gave me a chance at accepting myself!” – Philly (Relationships team)

Image is a dirt road with 2 men, one is in a wheel chair. The Image is the cover for Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution netflix documentary.

5. Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution

Produced by former President and First Lady, Barack and Michelle Obama, Crip Camp is a documentary film that follows the disability rights movement in America. A group of teenagers living with disability at a summer camp in New York join the movement and fight for change.

– Claire (MPM Founder)

Image is Torn Apart book cover.

6. Torn Apart

Torn Apart takes you on a journey of growing up with disability and the emotional rollercoaster Cory Friedman, and his family, experienced.

From the day he first developed tics at age 5, which became a complex battle with Tourette’s syndrome, anxiety disorder, and OCD, it is a realistic account written through Corys eyes, of his struggles with controlling his body and trying his best to have an ordinary life.

He is honest about the torn muscles from tics, the broken teeth from jaw spasms, the heartache his parents experienced, of turning to alcohol and drugs to try and manage medication side effects, and to seek some peace in his life.

It’s an informative account of living a life with Tourettes and one I learnt a lot from. I show this video at all my Foundation Skills Training sessions at MPM.” – Elisa (People and Culture team)

Image is The Driving Bell and the Butterfly book cover.

7. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly by Jean-Dominique Bauby

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly is an autobiography entirely transcribed by the author with the use of his eyes only. Certain eye movements each represented a specific letter of the alphabet. It’s an amazing story on how some one who is completely locked in and unable to do anything for themselves or communicate well with others is so aware of what is going on around them.” – Suzanne (Relationships team)

8. TED TALK: I got 99 problems … palsy is just one

Image is a woman (Maysoon Zayid) sitting on a chair talking to the audience at her Ted Talk.

“Maysoon Zayid is an American Actress and a Comedian, who has Cerebral Palsy. This 17 minute Ted Talk is an honest account of living with disability and how the attitude of her family and the community she grew up in shaped her life. My greatest take out from it is that physical disability cannot stop passion, and how much acceptance can play a role in living an ordinary life.” – Elisa (People and Culture team)

9. Far from the Tree: Parents, Children and the Search for Identity by Andrew Solomon

“This book changed the way I think about identity. The author interviews over 300 individuals and families experiencing a range of conditions or situations including some related to disability: deafness, dwarfism, Down’s syndrome, autism, and schizophrenia. He poses the same question each time – to what extent should parents accept their children for who they are, and to what extent they should help them become their best selves? It’s quite a tome (I think it took me two years – off and on – to finish this book!) but it really does cover so many complex issues. It opened my eyes to the very different ways people experience and identify with disability.” – Sophie (Marketing team)

10. Atypical

Netflix’s Atypical follows Sam, a teenager with austism as he becomes more independent in his society as he finishes high school and gets ready to start college. Although Keir Gilchrist who plays Sam is not disabled in season 2 the show introduces a range of disabled actors who form part of Sam’s peer group. – Max (Partnerships team)

Image is a scene from Atypical TV series. 7 people sit in a cirlce at a peer group about disability.

We’d love to hear from you

Do you have a favourite book, film or TV show about disability that resonated with you and your experience? Leave us a comment and let us know.

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