THE ODD WAY HOME, a feature film starring Rumer Willlis and Chris Marquette

The film that pairs autism with abuse with abuse is premiering on May 30th, 2014 and opens from May 30th through June 5th at the Hollywood Arena Theater.  June 3rd it will be available at i-tunes and VOD.  We want everyone and their families to be there as this is groundbreaking social awareness.

Two strangers, each living at the edges of society, are fatefully united for a harrowing and inspirational journey through the enchanting vistas of New Mexico. A passionate young woman escaping her abusive past, and a reclusive young man with Autism, take a journey that redefines the notion of family. Duncan lives a solitary life in a tiny town, finding bliss in map making. His humanistic GPS skills bewilder the customers who pass through his convenient store. Maya encounters Duncan in the most unexpected way and has no idea what a wondrous journey is about to ignite.

Link to trailer:

Comments from the Director:  RAJEEV NIMALAKHANDAN

MY INSPIRATION TO MAKE THE FILM:  The reason I was inspired to direct and co-write the film is because I was asked to do a documentary on several families with autism. I went into the experience not knowing what to expect and I was blown away by my interaction with the families coping with autism. Each child had a unique spirit and sense of joy that stayed with me at a very deep level. I wanted to tell the story with a character who would demonstrate the many layers of autism that I had experienced.

ABOUT MAKING THE FILM:  The casting was quite fun. We had great actors to come in and read for us so we considered many and finally chose the ones that gave life perfectly to the actual script.  The actors are Rumer Willis, Chris Marquette, Veronica Cartwright, Brendan Sexton III and Bruce Altman.  Chris Marquette and I were keenly aware of the responsibility that we had in telling a story about a man with autism and we pledged to create someone who was textured, layered, and steeped in honesty. From the reactions we have received from the many families with autism in their lives, we feel we have captured a truly special character. Many times family members don’t just say they liked the film, they have thanked me for making this film. This reaction touches me beyond belief.

COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT: The Odd Way Home has received a lot of support from the autism community at large.  Through the process of making this film, and interacting with so many families with autism, I have come to appreciate the many facets of this condition.  Prior to making the film I attended several conferences and met Dr. Temple Grandin, the winner of 7 Emmy’s for her film entitled “Temple Grandin” starring Claire Daines.

I heard the many questions and issues parents were trying to navigate, as we filmed, both Chris Marquette and I would be very careful to guide Duncan in the direction of what he would or wouldn’t do.  We did not want to let the story affect his behavior. We wanted him to react to the world as naturally as someone with autism would. Then again, as Dr. Stephen Shore, another person on the autism spectrum and world class presenter on autism, has often said, when you meet one person with autism, you have met just one person with autism. There is more diversity in the autism spectrum alone than there is amongst so called “normal” people.  We wanted to create someone who stayed with the very characteristics that define autism in the first place.

THE FILM TAKE AWAY:  The takeaway from this film is that even though Duncan has autism, he is the stronger character that lends strength to Maya who is climbing out of the trenches of abuse and addiction she was trapped in. Duncan has a profound impact on her and helps her find the beauty in life again.   My message to audiences worldwide is to see and know that no matter what disability a person has, they have so many more gifts, strengths and talents that have great impact for everyone.


The protagonists’ personal journeys and the relationship that develops between them are captivating, and sensitively drawn, but what is more, their experiences are marked by an inescapable sense of authenticity. Filled with humor and flavorful personalities “The Odd Way Home” paints a picture of how people really will come to know and recognize the true face of autism in the real world.  Captivating and lots of fun!”

KAREN SIMMONS, CEO & Founder of Autism Today, Help You Need Now!

With rich characters and well written dialogue, Co-Writer/Director Rajeev Nirmalakhandan’s captures a journey seldom seen in independent film. Rumer Wills and Chris Marquette’s interaction perfectly reflects the day to day challenges of those individuals who are autistic and those around them traversing a world they know little about.”

JOEY TRAVOLTA of Inclusion Films  


A soon to be released film produced in New Mexico deals in the most sensitive and compelling way with the subject of autism. It is a profoundly moving story about a young man with autism. The word autism is never mentioned in the movie, but the viewer gains enormous insight into the behavior and thinking of an autistic man and is able to make the diagnosis without being told. More importantly it educates the viewers about this complicated and debilitating condition in a way that one would never get from simply reading about it. Like many cognitive conditions, the film is first class in every way but most importantly it will help people understand this disability and hopefully stimulate conversations that will lead to greater understanding.

DR. BARRY RAMO, Cardiologist in New Mexico

HOW TO FIND THE FILM:  The premiere is May 30th, 2014 and will be available on i-tunes and VOD on June 3rd.

A Personal Message from Karen Simmons

When I co-authored “Chicken Soup for the Soul, Children with Special Needs” with Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen and Heather McNamara, the biggest dilemma we faced was what to call the book ,as folks both did and did not want to be labeled in certain ways. It was reported to be the most challenging title the Chicken Soup people wrestled with to date. What we learned was that people on the autism spectrum and other spectrums for that matter, are people first before their condition!

Some of my favorite people are on the autism spectrum! My dad, my son, Stephen Shore, my sister (maybe) and even a bit of me! When my son was diagnosed in 1992 I embraced his autism and mostly tried to focus on his gifts, strengths and talents rather than the deficits he displayed at the time, after I got over the initial denial of it all. Of course I had the same challenges families face in those beginning years and could have chosen to have a negative attitude and chose instead to focus on the positives as much as I could. As part of his early intervention, before the days of behavioral interventions, I wasn’t about to wait around for science to prove to me whether certain methodologies were legit or not. I just wanted to find tools that would enable him to have the best life he could have.

Of course I used my own “mom” common sense compass, built into most moms, though I tried things to help my son that were not necessarily science based. They were “mom” based. My real question is who are we to “fix” people? All people are broken in some way, and to different degrees. ALL people have different ways of being though certainly no one is “better” than the next person. If we feel with our hearts and souls while helping people through tough times, in whatever way makes sense at the time, the world will be a better place!

Our time on the planet is all-together too short to waste on efforts that take an extraordinary amount of time to prove one way or the other. Often, by the time double blind studies are concluded, methodologies have changed. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a Polyanna, with an altruistic view, and I do believe in research with a true return on investment. I propose that we focus to create a better overall society that promotes everybody flourishing.

Autism is not a disease, an illness or a disorder, it’s a different order and people on the spectrum as well as other spectrums, are wonderful souls and deserve the best, most successful lives, whatever that might look like. Thanks for being you, John!

Karen Simmons

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