March 31, 2008 12:00 PM

Henry Stills, 11, takes a bow in the March 25 HBO documentary Autism: The Musical, which follows five autistic kids as they put on a show.

When Henry Stills was invited to perform in a musical with the Miracle Project, a Los Angeles theater group that includes kids with special needs, “he was ambivalent at best,” says his dad, Stephen, 63, of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. Adds mom Kristen, 41: “I figured he was not going to engage at all.” Turns out Henry (who has Asperger’s, a high-functioning form of autism that hinders social interaction) thrived in the creative environment. So did the four other autistic children whose rehearsals, home lives and performance (which they helped script) appear in the documentary. “People will really be able to learn from it,” says Stephen. “They’re just kids. Watching them, it’s like, ‘We’re gonna do the school play!’ Some wander off, some are loud, and it’s just wonderful.”

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