Routine Interrupted

Autism, Cancer, Hospitals + Other Adventures

Recipient of the Gold Award

Spotlight Documentary Film Awards

This short documentary is about Stephanie Lay, a single mother with a genetic history of cancer and her son, Bryce. He was diagnosed at two years old with severe autism.

His doctors said he would be institutionalized the rest of his life. 

Her response to this harrowing diagnosis:

You don’t know what mother you put autism in front of.

I will fight this with every fiber of my being.

About the film

On February 16, 2020 Stephanie died unexpectedly at her home. My producer and I were the ones who found her. We did not think that we would continue with our documentary, but her friends, who had known about our film, reached out to us and asked us to complete it for Stephanie. Her love and devotion for Bryce was defined by her determination to instill independence and confidence despite his severe autism. I can still hear her voice praising Bryce: Good job, Son. She created Maine-Tex Grilled Salsa with Bryce to teach her son life skills, give him a foundation for success, and to show first-hand what people with autism can accomplish. I went from dressing up each day to fight autism to being covered in tomatoes every day. If it is meant to be, it is up to me. Stephanie lost her mother at an early age, and all she wanted was to fill that void. Without family she created a large community that supported and celebrated her. The community lives on and is now caring for Bryce. Stephanie was upfront, sincere, and adamant about what was most important to her. Her friends referred to her as “warrior momma” who fought for Bryce every turn. Her humor and persistence were her weapons. Routine Interrupted teaches us that the connection between mother and child, even in the midst of extraordinary suffering and distress is the greatest gift. The power of her wisdom, courage, and wit is a lesson for us all.

Lauren Shaw, Director

Watch the film

Rent the film today for 7 days with Vimeo On Demand.  All proceeds go to the Autism Society of Maine.  See for more info.

Image gallery

The production team

Lauren Shaw


Fine art photographer and filmmaker, Professor Emerson College, Director: About John, If They Had Known, Angkor’s Children, A Drop in the Bucket, Maine Women: Living on the Land

Karlina Lyons


25 years of experience in domestic and international media production, with a career focus on educational content for children and families.

Paul Feinberg

Executive Producer

40-year experience as a lawyer and real estate developer, Executive Producer: Angkor's Children, A Drop in the Bucket

Allyson Sherlock


Digital Media faculty member at Harvard Extension School and Emerson College. Freelance video editor and motion graphic artist.

Patrick Kearns

Assistant Producer, Cinematographer

Patrick earned his BA in Visual Media Arts Production from Emerson College. Since graduating, he has worked as an event photographer, lighting technician, and director of photography. In his free time, he likes to shoot and process film on his favorite Minolta

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