An article in The New York Times Magazine chronicles author Ron Suskind’s experience in developing a therapy program for his autistic younger son using animated Disney films. Suskind’s son Owen suddenly stopped speaking just before age 3, leading to a diagnosis of regressive autism. One of Owen’s few activities was repeated viewings of Disney animated films on home video, with and without his older brother Walt. Those viewings led to several linguistic and socialization breakthroughs, eventually leading to a program of “Disney therapy” undertaken with psychologist Dan Griffin, where characters and events in Disney films were used to assist Owen in achieving developmental milestones that were previously viewed as unreachable for someone with his form of autism.
The article is adapted from a book titled Life, Animated, written by Suskind and scheduled for publication on April 1, 2014.