Even today, children and adults with cerebral palsy sometimes endure the social stigma that comes along with having the disorder, despite the vast amount of resources available and medical advances that should help people understand it better.
Sometimes it takes a good film to help people learn about cerebral palsy, and fortunately, there are numerous movies detailing how people overcame the stereotypes and beat the odds. The following films are some of the top movies about cerebral palsy that can help inspire you and/or your child to, and can also help others understand the disorder and learn to remove the stigma attached to people who live with cerebral palsy.
#1 – My Left Foot
My Left Foot is a 1989 film, and a true story inspired by the life of Christy Brown, who grew up with quadriplegia and spastic cerebral palsy that limited his ability to walk and talk. While growing up in Dublin, Ireland, in the 1940s and and 1950s, Brown had hardly any options in regards to treatment, and often faced social ridicule, even from his own father, who felt ashamed of his son.
My Left Foot chronicles Brown’s life, starting from his birth and throughout adulthood. As a child, he became angered when his father told his other children that “Chrissy didn’t understand what’s going on.” The young boy grabbed a piece of chalk with his foot and wrote a sentence to his father. That simple act changed his life forever.
Brown went on to write an international best-selling novel, entitled, “Down All the Days.” A number of other novels followed, including “A Shadow on Summer,”; “Wild Grow the Lilies,” and “A Promising Career.”
The success of his books led to fame and wealth, allowing Brown to return home to Dublin and buy a specially-built home. He married Mary Carr, an English woman he met in London, and continued to write and paint until his death in 1981.
In 1989, My Left Foot was nominated for the Academy Award in the Best Picture category. It’s a story that shows children with cerebral palsy that they overcome any obstacle and become as successful as they want to be.
#2 – King Gimp
King Gimp is a 1999 documentary film that follows the life of Dan Keplinger, a Towson, Maryland man who was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at birth, in 1973. Filmmakers Susan Hannah Hadary and William A. Whiteford began following Keplinger’s daily activities when he was just 12-years-old, including time spent at a special education school, his introduction into a traditional public school in high school, and his success as an adult.
During high school, Keplinger discovered art, and while using a paintbrush attached to his headgear, he began to create beautiful paintings that reflected how he felt inside. According to the Baltimore Sun,
They recorded Keplinger’s move from a state school for disabled children into Parkville High School. They filmed him moving from his mother’s home into his first apartment. His first art show, his friendship with a young woman hired to help him with homework, his senior prom and his tears at his college graduation — all were captured on film.”
When the filmmakers met Keplinger, he couldn’t talk or dress himself, Yet, he graduated high school and entered college at Towson University. Majoring in mass communications allowed Keplinger to learn skills to help the filmmakers with the documentary. The documentary became a success, winning the 2000 Peabody Award and the 2000 Academy Award for Best Short Subject Documentary.
Keplinger continues on with his art work. He still lives in Towson with his wife, Dena Huggler. Many of his art pieces are now hanging in a gallery in New York City.
#3 – Door to Door
Door to Door is a 2002 movie inspired by the true story of Bill Porter, a man who grew up in Portland, Oregon, with cerebral palsy. Porter was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at birth in 1932, and while growing up, he faced numerous obstacles because of his disability. When he became an adult, he had a dream to become a door to door salesman, but almost everyone who knew him told him he wasn’t employable because he was “crippled.”
Porter refused to accept government help, and began walking up to 10 miles daily to meet customers and prove he could be a successful salesmen. Eventually, his determination paid off. He became a salesman for Watkins Incorporated, walking seven-mile routes to sell products. The road to success was difficult for Porter. He received complaints that he scared children because of his disorder, but to overcome it, he began bringing toy puppets along with him and entertained children while selling products to their parents.
Porter became the company’s top seller and remained with Watkins Incorporated for more than 40 years. Porter passed away in 2013 in a Gresham, Oregon, assisted-living facility. He was 81.
Door to Door won numerous awards, including a Peabody Award and six Emmy Awards. The inspirational movie shows that despite his disabilities, Porter was determined to become a success. After decades of being the top retail salesman in numerous states, Porter retired, and eventually moved to an assisted-living facility in Gresham, Oregon. Porter passed away in 2013. He was 81.