A feature film debuting at movie theaters across the country this week is giving big-screen attention to the desire among many with developmental disabilities for independence as they become adults.

“The Story of Luke” focuses on a 25-year-old with autism who is adjusting to life with relatives after his grandmother — and long-time caretaker — dies. Luke resolves to make it on his own and embarks on a journey to find a job and a girlfriend.

The fictional account is rooted in the real-life experiences of the film’s writer and director, Alonso Mayo, whose mother runs a school for those with developmental disabilities in Peru. Mayo said he was inspired to write the script after seeing many kids from his mother’s school grow into adults who yearned for the same opportunities as their typically developing peers.

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“They wanted a girlfriend, they wanted to live on their own,” Mayo said. “I started seeing these young adults having the same issues everyone else has around relationships and independence.”

Since the movie premiered at the San Diego Film Festival in September, it has garnered awards for best film at five festivals. Though the story is aimed at a general audience, Mayo said he took pains to ensure the authenticity of the character portrayals and he’s gotten positive feedback — particularly from parents of those with autism who say the film hits home.

“We wanted to make sure that we were true, that it wasn’t a caricature,” Mayo said. “We want people laughing with Luke, not at Luke.”

Showings of “The Story of Luke” are scheduled at theaters in 14 cities across the country on Friday, with week-long runs beginning the same day in Los Angeles, New York and Ogden, Utah.

In addition, the film will be available on iTunes and through several cable and satellite on-demand services.

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