'Far From the Tree' Examines the Dynamics of Families With Disabled Children


In 2012, Andrew Solomon wrote the best-selling book, “Far From the Tree: Parents, Children and the Search for Identity.” In the book, he addresses an important issue about parenting: “To what extent should parents accept their children for who they are and to what extent they should help them become their best selves?”

On Friday, “Far From the Tree,” the documentary adaptation of his book directed by Rachel Dretzin, was released in select theaters and will be available on demand starting July 27.

The documentary follows six families who have children that are different from the rest of the family. Some of these differences are due to disability such as neurotypical parents raising a child on the spectrum. The film encourages viewers to cherish loved ones for who they are, not who they might have been. In a piece for The New York Times, Of the 300 families featured in Solomon’s book, only one was included in the documentary.

“It’s different to hear Leah Smith, who is an LP (Little Person), saying in the film, ‘I don’t think I need to be fixed,’ than it is to hear me quote others on the same topic in the book,” he said.

The Arc of Central Virginia said:

This weekend is the opening weekend for Far From The Tree Documentary — a powerful film by The New York Times bestselling author Andrew Solomon and director Rachel Dretzin highlighting families with members who have autism, Down syndrome, and other disabilities.

The Arc is proud to support this film and is grateful to Andrew and Rachel for working to promote acceptance and awareness for families across the globe.

Daphne Howland, who reviewed the film for the Village Voice, said the film is a contemplation of what it means to be human and optimistic.

“It’s a painstaking inspection of parenthood, which is fraught even in less formidable circumstances than what these families face, and often harrowing,” Howland said.

“Far From The Tree,” the book, is also the second most recommended parenting book by The Mighty’s parenting community.

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