By Jeremy Mathews | January 24, 2007

“I didn’t choose to do this, I was drafted,” declares a mother in “Autism Every Day,” Lauren Thierry’s short but enlightening tour of 24 hours in the lives of eight different families with autistic children. With solid but conventional editing, the film walks through the process and hardships of autistic parenting, starting with the discovery of the problem and ending with a look to the future.

Featuring interviews with the parents and footage of their daily routine, the movie reveals the everyday challenges that parents without autistic children don’t understand. The parents feel the harsh and constant judgement of those who credit bad parenting instead of the disorder.

Thierry lets the parents’ comments serve as the narration. They explain that autism isn’t only about social and environmental isolation—eating is also a problem. They speak candidly about the emotional struggle. One mother contemplated driving herself and her daughter off a bridge to end the frustration. They detail their finances—whenever they consider purchasing something, they think about how the money could be spent on their child’s care. Many families go broke and fall deep in debt. One parent estimates that she and her husband spent $50,000 on the bedroom’s facilities, and her child still cries all day.

The documentary is too short to really go into details with these specific people’s lives and personalities, yet the last 15 minutes still feels partly recycled. A film with twice the length and half the subjects would have more resonance. But at 44-minutes, the movie is destined for an hour-long block on a cable channel with commercials, and it fits nicely in that environment.

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