Movies

Movies About Rare Diseases and Disorders That Are Awesome

This fantastic list of movies about rare diseases and disorders that you might be interested in reading was pulled together by Rae Hower. Rae is joining me to coordinate the Disability Book & Movie Club. Get to know her through her bio at the end of this post.

The movies below are linked to wherever I could find the movies – Netflix, YouTube, Amazon.  When there are buttons saying “click to watch,” it will take you to the Netflix link.  I tried to provide the free version whenever possible. If you find a better link than what we have here, please let us know in the comments and I’ll update this post (same goes for movies that should be in this list!).

As you watch these movies, please keep in mind that there is not a lot of disability representation in these movies. Most of these actors are just acting disabled, and this is problem in our disability community. The movies may also be inaccurate with regard to the disability. Keep that as fodder for discussion and learning.

Also! Don’t forget: the US library carries movies and will accept requests for movies. If you want to watch something listed below, but can’t rent, buy or find it for free, request it from your local library!

Rare Diseases and Disorders:

February largely features rare diseases and disorders in terms of Disability Awareness focus:

This being so,  we’ve collected books and movies about rare diseases and disorders to read and learn more. 

Also:

  • Interesting statistics about how many people are affected by rare diseases can be found here: https://taylorstale.org/rare-disease/
  • Please join in our Disability Movie Club discussion on Brain on Fire, happening February 28th. Information about it is linked here.

Movies on Rare Diseases that You Might Be Interested in Watching:

Mask
Mask the movie

Mask

The story of a boy who has craniodiaphyseal dysplasia, an extremely rare disorder. This is a fantastic movie that has it all: fierce mom, alternative living, fighting with the school for inclusion and more. A must-see. You can watch it on Netflix DVD (not streaming, unfortunately), and on Amazon. I couldn’t find it on YouTube either. Request it from your library if they don’t have it: this is a classic.

The Mighty
the mighty movie

The Mighty

A movie about the friendship between two boys, one of whom has Morquio syndrome. Rent it on YouTube for $2.99 and it’s available on Netflix DVD (not streaming in America though).

The Life We Live
the life we live - black background and text

The Life We Live

A full free documentary that is not captioned about a family with daughters who have NUBPL.

Unrest

Unrest

A Netflix original (so only available on Netflix streaming) about chronic illness, ME.

We discussed it in our Disability Movie Club.

The Tic Code
the tic code movie

The Tic Code

A movie about friendship, love and Tourette’s! It’s available on Netflix DVD (not streaming),and Amazon – I couldn’t find the full movie on YouTube, sorry.

Brain on Fire
brain on fire

Brain on Fire

A Netflix original movie (so, only available on Netflix streaming) about a woman who is eventually diagnosed with anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis) – We’re discussing this February 28th (information linked here).

The Elephant Man
the elephant man

The Elephant Man

A film  about a man who lived in the late 1800’s who most likely had Proteus Syndrome. Also available on Netflix DVD, $2.99 rental on YouTube, and there is also a free QED documentary about the real man on YouTube.

Love & Other Drugs
movies about rare diseases

Love & Other Drugs

A movie about a woman with Parkinson’s who falls in love with a drug company representative. It’s available on Netflix DVD (not streaming) and Amazon.

Afflicted
afflicted movie series on netflix

Afflicted – a Netflix series about people who have chronic illnesses – got slammed in HuffPost. That something is hated by us in the disability community isn’t necessarily a reason to not watch a movie (- Million Dollar Baby comes to mind); it could be fodder for some great discussions. So keep the door open and walk through it  knowing that this series is hated by a lot of people with chronic illnesses.

Lorenzo's Oil
Lorenzo's oil movie

Lorenzo’s Oil

The story of parents search to find treatment for their son Lorenzo’s adrenoleukodystrophy (ALD), a deadly genetic disease. It’s available for rent ($3.99) on YouTube, on Amazon, and Netflix DVD and streaming. Click the link below to watch it via Netflix streaming!

The King's Speech
the king's speech

The King’s Speech

The true story of King George and his stuttering (is stuttering really a rare disease? I’m not sure, but it seems rare enough to include here…please correct if wrong!). You can watch it on Netflix DVD  and streaming (linked below), and on Amazon. Your local library is likely to have it, too, as it’s recent (but not brand new!)

The Boy in the Plastic Bubble
The Boy in the Plastic Bubble Movie

The Boy in the Plastic Bubble

Early (pre-Grease) John Travolta! This is the story of a boy born without an immune system and his reach for love with the girl next door. You can watch it on Netflix DVD, and on Amazon.

Bubble Boy
Bubble Boy Movie

Bubble Boy

Inspired by the Boy in the Plastic Bubble (see previous movie), and written by the same authors. It’s about a boy born without an immune system who builds a protective bubble for himself so he can chase his love across the country and win her. You can watch it on Netflix DVD, and on Amazon

There We Go: The Movies About Rare Diseases and Disorders

That completes the list right now. Please drop a comment with a better way to watch a movie (free is great!) or movies about rare diseases and disorders that you recommend. We want to keep this list growing, relevant, informative and awesome.

Don’t forget to order these movies at your local library (keep disability in the scheme of things) and your local disability organizations.

Finally, come on over and join us in the Lit League Disability Book & Movie club on Facebook!

 

Books About Rare Diseases 

Rare diseases and disorders are something we’re always interested in learning more about.

These books will help to shed light on some aspects of a few rare diseases

Also, don’t forget to join the Disability Book and Movie Club on Facebook for more discussion.

Books About Rare Diseases
great books about rare diseases and disorders: image of alternating squares. some square of solid color background with the title of the post interspersed; other squares have images from the cover of the books on them)
rae: a woman with dark hair is smiling at the camera. her skin is light

Rae is a mom of three whose eyes were opened to the beautiful diverse disability community (that she previously ignored!) when her daughter was diagnosed with Down syndrome. She is learning to be an ally by listening to people with disabilities and reading/watching their books, blogs and movies, and by going to as many trainings as she can. Rae is a part time international public health practitioner who likes yoga, loves the beach, and used to cook (she never cleaned). She occasionally dabbles in textile arts.

A list of movies about rare diseases and disorders that are awesome for learning more: this list inlcudes movie links to YouTube, Amazon and Netflix
Meriah
Meriah Nichols is a career counselor, teacher and blogger. Single mom to 3 (one with Down syndrome, one gifted 2E), she is also a Trekkie who likes her coffee hot and black.
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