Why Special Needs Parents with PTSD Should Watch Inside Out

by May 29, 2015Books and Resources, PTSD2 comments

Welcome to another installment in Different Dream’s ongoing series about special needs parents with PTSD. (Links to the entire series can be found at the bottom of the page.) In this post, we’re shelving the heavy stuff for a little while and going to the movies for a change. You can thank my son-in-law, who lives with and manages his PTSD very successfully, for showing me the trailer for Disney’s new movie, Inside Out. Before the 2 minute 30 second trailer was finished, I was composing this post in my head.
Now, you may be wondering what a Disney movie has to do with special needs parents with PTSD. Though I’ve only watched the trailer and poked around at the official website a bit (the movie comes out June 19, 2015), I can think of at least 3 reasons special needs parents with PTSD should be in line when the movie releases…and perhaps purchase the DVD.


#1 Special Needs Parents with PTSD Should Meet the Little Voices in Their Heads

In case you didn’t notice, “Meet the little voices inside your head” is the movie’s tagline.  When the movie promotion began, the tagline is what caught my son-in-law’s ears. And my daughter’s. And mine. Because one of the main goals at the clinic where my son-in-law was treated is to help clients identify the voices inside their heads and then learn to manage them as an integrated, whole person. Intensive Trauma Therapy, Inc. calls this aspect of treatment “parts work” instead of  “tiny voices.” The “parts” are bits of a person that become stuck in the emotions trapped inside their heads during a traumatic event.  Inside Out isn’t treatment, but it can make special needs parents with PTSD more aware of what’s happening inside their heads.


#2 Special Needs Parents with PTSD Should Know They Are Not Alone

The main character in this movie isn’t a special needs parents or a child with special needs. The main character is a little girl going through a rough patch growing up, as this summary shows:

Growing up can be a bumpy road, and it’s no exception for Riley, who is uprooted from her Midwest life when her father starts a new job in San Francisco. Like all of us, Riley is guided by her emotions – Joy (Amy Poehler), Fear (Bill Hader), Anger (Lewis Black), Disgust (Mindy Kaling), and Sadness (Phyllis Smith). The emotions live in Headquarters, the control center inside Riley’s mind, where they help advise her through everyday life. As Riley and her emotions struggle to adjust to a new life in San Francisco, turmoil ensues in Headquarters. Although Joy, Riley’s main and most important emotion, tries to keep things positive, the emotions conflict on how best to navigate a new city, house and school.

Kids who don’t have good support systems are more likely to be traumatized by rough patches in childhood than those who do. The same can be said for special needs parents who don’t have support systems. Or who experience repeated traumas as they care for their kids and make difficult decisions about care and treatments. Inside Out shows that all of us experience trauma. We are not alone in the constant struggle to manage our emotions and move forward when life is hard.

#3 Special Needs Parents Should Laugh More

As was mentioned earlier, trauma and PTSD are heavy subjects. Many special needs parents with PTSD live in this place day after day and find it hard to laugh. But if the trailer is any indication, Inside Out will make us laugh and learn and find hope. Take a look and see what you think?

Inside Out Trailer

So, are you laughing yet? Do you plan on going to the movie? Once you’ve seen in, stop by and leave a comment. I’d love to hear what you think about it.


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By Jolene

Jolene Philo is the author of the Different Dream series for parents of kids with special needs. She speaks at parenting and special needs conferences around the country. She’s also the creator and host of the Different Dream website. Sharing Love Abundantly With Special Needs Families: The 5 Love Languages® for Parents Raising Children with Disabilities, which she co-authored with Dr. Gary Chapman, was released in August of 2019 and is available at local bookstores, their bookstore website, and at Amazon.


  1. A.C.

    The Academy for Precision Learning (http://www.aplschool.org) is a K-12 school that provides a nurturing, inclusive, and individualized learning experience for neurodiverse students. APL offers targeted opportunities that promote the academic achievement and social development of students who benefit from a smaller, supportive learning environment. Students are engaged in developmentally appropriate, data-informed, individualized experiences that put them on a path to achieving their greatest potential. APL meets our students where they are at, supporting each student to build on their unique strengths to become a curious and engaged life-long learner who celebrates diversity, practices self-advocacy, and generates impact in their community.

  2. Sylvia

    Interesting comparison! I’ll have to watch the movie!

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Meet Jolene

Jolene Philo is a published author, speaker, wife, and mother of a son with special needs.



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