Documentary about autism features Phoenix family

PHOENIX - A documentary featuring a local family highlights the struggles and triumphs of dealing with an autism diagnosis.

Lori Cairns remembers the day back in 1996 her son J.R. was diagnosed with the disorder.

She said the consulting doctor told her that her son was "mentally retarded" and had autism. She also said the doctor told that her son would "probably be in an institution by the time he's 17."

He's was just 2 years old.

She knew her family's story could help others so they decided to make a documentary about their journey.

"I know someone in the world is having to go through what I went through. It was difficult. And even though the outcome is the same, the pain is still there," Cairns said.          

The film titled " Be With Me " was completed in September 2013 and is making its way through film festivals around the country.   

J.R. is now 20 years old and living independently. It's something others told Cairns wouldn't be possible but she never gave up hope.            

"There's nothing you can do but try to dig down and find out what they can do. Because if you don't try how are you going to know," she said.              

Cairns also added that documenting her family's journey wasn't an easy choice but she knows it can help.              

"I want them to know that they can still reach out and that there are other people who can help them," she said.

The film is set to premiere in Tempe on Thursday at the Harkins Theatre on Mill Avenue.

Filmmakers say 100 percent of the proceeds will go to Square One a nonprofit organization that has programs aimed at benefiting young adults with developmental disabilities.

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