Watch how JJ conquers autism through this riveting 110-minute documentary. Experience the struggles, challenges, and triumphs of JJ focusing on autism awareness, education, tolerance, gifts and talents, the spiritual journey, and an awakening through treatments. Because autism is a locked-in disorder, watch how JJ’s brain is unlocked. He was on medications for 10 years; JJ has been medication-free since 2006.
“I am a mom on a mission to support those living with autism; I believe they can lead happy, productive lives,” says creator Lori Ciccarelli and mother of 21-year-old JJ. “My goal is to provide resources and hope to those in need.” She feels it is her responsibility to support families of autism. “Why should others reinvent the wheel? If these therapies and tools worked for us, maybe they can help others.” JJ’s Journey is not the typical day-in-the-life of autism as Lori feels parents already live that daily; but it is a documentary told in a story format which chronicles JJ’s life through high school highlighting resources and tools. "I was in denial for several years. Once I accepted my son’s diagnosis, doors started opening because I started opening those doors. I finally realized that my son didn’t need a cure, he just needed tools for success and to function responsibly in society." School districts around the country are using her film to address issues on tolerance in addition to Universities as part of the autism curriculum for the special education teacher credentialing program.
JJ’s Journey has received international recognition as the Autism Society of America Media Excellence Award 2009 Nominee, Official Selection Mammoth Film Festival 2008, Official Selection International Christian Film Festival 2009, and Official Selection African Enterprise International Film Festival 2010. Lori and JJ were featured in January 2009 on the San Diego NBC news, and their story published on Oraphs Angel Network.org September 2009 and featured on Oprah.com - December 2009 - as "Ambassadors of Hope." JJ’s Journey was shown in Barry, S. Wales in August 2009 at the International Christian Film Festival and will be shown June 2010 in S. Africa at the African Enterprise International Film Festival 2010.
Lori had no film experience, but was determined to get her message out, so she bought a camcorder and software editing program where she learned film editing. It took her three years to complete this project and released it in April 2008 in honor of National Autism Awareness month. She understands the importance of autism awareness and wants to make a difference. “Since intolerance has been the hardest part of our journey, I want to help educate society.”
Look what others are saying about JJ’s Journey
"I have read hundreds of autism-related books, gone to countless conferences and seen dozens of DVDs. Yet, nothing has had such an impact on me as JJ’s Journey A Journey About Autism... Compassion, determination and hope exude from this remarkable documentary about the journey of one, autistic, young man. You quickly realize that this is far more than just a mother’s devotion. It’s a valuable resource to be used by educators, doctors and therapists so that they can understand who our children are and why they do what they do. It is one of only a few media tools on the market that chronicles the life of someone living with autism from toddler to adolescence…with feedback and analysis from those who are pivotal in helping with development. And, in many ways, it supersedes an “autistic” learning tool, because it can be used as a lesson in tolerance and respect."
"The documentary speaks to so many things besides Autism. All the things about acceptance, integration, understanding, also apply to every relationship and interpersonal interaction, and how we should deal with people in general. I thought it was exceptional Lori!"
“I admire their courage, strength, spirit, spirituality, wisdom, humor and endurance.”
“I was touched in ways I did not think I would be.”
“They persevered with courage to keep moving forward…This is a must-see for parents with children of autism.”
“This documentary is a mind-blower and a real eye-opener for those who know little about autism.”
“This documentary is an inspiration to all.”
Lori taught at the elementary level for 11 years. Over the past few decades, she has served as a volunteer on the Site Council for her local public schools, has served as the PTA president for her local junior high school, has served on the Parents Advisory Team for her local school board of directors, and is currently facilitating a Parents of Autism Support Group in addition to serving on a team of Advocates of Students with Disabilities in her community.
If you would like to view the trailer of JJ's Journey, click here.
JJ's Graduation Speech (this clip is not in the documentary as the film was released before JJ graduated from high school)