Beyond the Spectrum

When their two-year-old son, Oskar, is diagnosed with severe autism, a busy Ontario family of seven drops everything for a year to focus on early intervention. Faced by multi-year waiting lists for governmental autism services, and inspired by their previous success improving older son Teddy's autism diagnosis, parents Carly and Stef are optimistic about alternative therapies. Oskar proves to be very different from his brother, however, and progress is slow and uncertain.

Carly and Stef struggle to balance Oskar's hectic treatment schedule in addition to caring for their four other children, who are homeschooled. The methods of treatment they try, ranging from music therapy to naturopathy, yield mixed results. Over time, he begins to show signs of a breakthrough in his verbal communication and eye contact, but every two steps forward seem to be followed by one step back. With every hurdle, Carly and Stef are forced to rethink their understanding of autism, as they try to see the world from Oskar’s perspective. As they strive to connect with him, they must confront an impossible question: does accepting Oskar mean accepting his autism?

Oskar’s family bravely invites us into their home to broaden our understanding of what it means to be ‘normal.’ Several adults with autism, including world-renowned author Temple Grandin and Canadian self-advocate Jackie McMillan, share their personal experiences and help us gain insight into Oskar's mind.

Director Steve Suderman offers an achingly honest portrayal of love and sacrifice, praised by Temple Grandin as “essential viewing for parents and teachers of children with autism.” Recently, the concept of neurodiversity, or “the idea that neurological differences like autism and ADHD are the result of normal, natural variation in the human genome” (John Elder Robison, Psychology Today), has made its way into the mainstream. Beyond the Spectrum participates in this vital conversation, exploring both the challenges and triumphs of embracing autism.

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