Skip navigation

Calls to Action

My son with autism is my 'Little Hero'

This guest blog post is by Jenn Medvin, filmmaker and mother of two.

My son is a hero. 

Xander doesn’t wear a cape or swing through the city on a spider web, but he always gives a heroic effort. He is the inspiration for my short documentary, Little Hero. Little Hero is an uplifting story where six-year-old Avery explains her unique relationship with her twin brother Xander, who has been diagnosed with autism. From my experience at recent film festivals, many audience members have expressed their desire to see more stories like Little Hero. I feel it is my responsibility as a filmmaker, and autism mom, to bring these adventures about people on the spectrum to the screen. Therefore, I am currently looking for people to participate in my new documentary, What Makes Me Happy

After completing our Kickstarter campaign last year, Little Hero has screened at four Oscar-qualifying film festivals, most recently DOC NYC. Out of the hundreds of film festivals around the world, there are only 33 Oscar-qualifying film festivals in our short documentary category. It is a great honor to screen at any of these festivals. Marcus McDougald (co-director/producer) and I were very proud to receive the Special Jury Award for Documentary Short at the New Orleans Film Festival in October. 

One of my most rewarding moments came after the screening in New Orleans when an audience member expressed that he now had a better understanding of his nephew with autism because of Little Hero. I was touched by his words and glad to hear the film made such a meaningful impression on him.

I have received a variety of questions from audience members about Little Hero at various film festivals. These are some of the more common ones.

What challenges did you encounter when trying to film the Twins?

I was worried about remaining objective during production because Avery and Xander are my children. Marcus and I wanted the children to be as natural as possible while filming. Avery loved the attention and being on camera. Xander didn’t seem to mind the process, except for the day he had the tantrum.  Because of the filming schedule, I had to get the twins ready for the pool out of their usual routine. I’m glad Marcus encouraged me to step away as that scene is an important part of the film.

Little Hero Trailer from fort sunday on Vimeo.

I would love to show my family/friend Little Hero. Where can I find it online?

Only after the competition year is a film usually available to view publicly outside of a festival.  Little Hero will be in-competition until summer 2016.  We will release information about the film online when it is available for general viewing.

An audience member in New York asked me if I was going to expand the film into a feature. I believe the story wraps itself up in ten minutes and it would be difficult to listen to a six year old narrate a 90 minute film. However, I am in development on a feature documentary with a focus on autism. 

As an autism mom, it isn’t encouraging to only hear about numbers and statistics. What Makes Me Happy (working title) is a feature length documentary that will follow my quest to discover alternative ways to communicate with my seven-year-old, nonverbal, son on the autism spectrum. 

Maybe you have heard about the family who were able to reach their son with autism by using Disney characters’ voices. Or even the Florida businessman who bonded with his brother on the spectrum while working at the family’s car wash. These are stories that inspire and give hope to parents and people discovering the diagnosis for the first time. The struggle may be trying to find something in common with your child or loved one who has autism.

I’m currently looking for people who have a special connection to their loved one with autism. Although it would be easier to film people in Southern California, I encourage people from around the United States to contact me if you think you are a fit. I want to hear all of your stories from surfing to superheroes, or even dress up parties.  Who knows what story will help me further connect with my son and help other people as well.

By allowing people with autism to tell their story, we will have an invaluable insight into their world.  I want my son to realize how beautiful and special he is. Through this journey, we will find another way to communicate using more than words.

You can always stay updated on Little Hero’s progress through our Facebook and Instagram page.  For more information about the film:


The Autism Speaks blog features opinions from people throughout the autism community. Each blog represents the point of view of the author and does not necessarily reflect Autism Speaks' beliefs or point of view.