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Cries from the Heart (1994)

Michael, a young autistic boy who has trouble with verbalization but a real talent for technology, uses a computer to plead for help after being molested at his school.


Michael Switzer


Robert Inman
1 nomination. See more awards »


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Complete credited cast:
Patty Duke ... Terry
Melissa Gilbert ... Karen
Bradley Pierce ... Michael
Markus Flanagan ... Roger
Lisa Banes ... Ms. Tolbert
Roger Aaron Brown ... Eliot
Peter Spears ... Jeff
Joe Chrest ... Brandon Richards
Troy Evans
Shelley Morrison
Raye Birk
Christopher Conrad Christopher Conrad ... Cody
Terrie Snell ... Jury Foreman


Michael is an autistic 7 year old child. He cannot speak or write. His mother, Karen, sends him to a special school to help him learn. Michael is taught to use a computer in order to express his feelings. Upon this, Michael reveals his fear of one of the ordelies at his school. He reveals he was sexualy abused by his guardian there, Jeff. Then ensues a courtroom battle, is Michaels evidence reliable? Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


In a landmark court case, an autistic child testified against an unrelenting criminal and his unspeakable crime (Video Australia) See more »




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Parents Guide:

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Release Date:

16 October 1994 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Who Speaks for Michael? See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

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User Reviews

Silent Scream
25 September 2005 | by sol1218See all my reviews

Strightfoward and at the same time painful made for TV movie involving a severely autistic seven year old boy Michael, Bradley Pierce. Michael was well on his way to be cured of his autism when he's molested, by one of the persons who's supposed to look after him, and not able to tell his parents and therapist what happen. Karen, Mellisa Gilbert, has her hands full with her young son Michael. We see early in the movie "A Cry from the Heart" Michael wondering away from her as she's on the phone with her husband Roger, Marcus Flanagan, and almost getting himself run over by a car in the street.

Trying to get Michael help for his autism Karen gets him enrolled in this special school and dormitory outside town that specialized in troubled children like himself. Working with Michael is Terry, Patty Duke, who the boy takes an immediate liking too and within days responds to her therapy. This at first impresses his mom, Karen, but later makes her feel as if she let him down all these years growing up autistic, by not being able to do for him then what Terry is now doing now.

The movie has Karen develop a very strange hostility toward Terry even though she's doing everything that Karen would have hoped for her son, cure him of his autism. There's also the fact that both Karen and her husband Roger are separated and she feels that may be a factor it young Michael's autism, and his not being able to overcome it. There's also Karen's suspicions of Michael's autism being genetic on her part. In fact Michael strangely tells his mom, by typing it out on a computer, that he feels that his father left him and Karen because he once broke his car window.

With Michael getting better every day in his ability to communicate and respond to both Terry and his mom all of a sudden he falls back into the world of non-communication that he was in before he entered the school. It's that what brings both Terry and Karen together and takes away their differences, or at least Karen's,with each other. In finding out what was it that destroyed all the progress that was achieved in by them in getting Michael out of the helpless autistic state that he was in. It later turns out that Michael was molested by someone near and dear to him and that person may well have molested many other boys like himself who he's in charge of.

The last half of "Cries from the Heart" is very gripping by changing course with Michael together with Terry having to go on trial to testify against his counselor Jeff, Peter Spears, for sexually abusing him. It would be really hard for young Michael to testify, this by tapping out his answers on a computer keyboard, with Jeff and his parents, in the courtroom. State D.A Ms.Tolbert, Lisa Banes, has doubts if Michael could go through with being able to not only testify against Jeff but have a jury believe him.

With the entire state case against Jeff dependent on Michael's testimony it forces D.A Tolbert to put him on the stand and have him relive all the horrors that he went through again. Michael goes on to prove that he can handle that, as well as his autism, much better then even those who have faith in him ever thought possible.

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