Show#320 Boy Learned to Speak Using Disney Movies His Name is Owen Suskind

Please join us tonight at 8:00 PM EST where your Host Paul Cimins and Co-Host Lynne Glucoft discuss a boy named Owen Suskind who was a talkative and lively child until the age of 3, when all that he had learned — speaking, eating and walking — began to slip away from him and he retreated into the lonely world of autism.We also discuss his new Documentary Life Animated.

Over time, Owen became lost in a library of animated Disney movies, rewinding and replaying them, and his parents, journalists Ron and Cornelia Suskind, worried about their son being sucked into the social isolation of the television.

“They vanish in front of you,” told ABC, which is owned by the Walt Disney Company.

But it was the Disney characters, whose lines and songs Owen could repeat back with ease, that ultimately gave his parents the entryway to his hidden thoughts and emotions and brought him back into the world, he said.

Over time, through repeated viewings of Disney classics like THE LITTLE MERMAID and THE LION KING, Owen found useful tools to help him to understand complex social cues and to re-connect with the world around him.

LIFE, ANIMATED evocatively interweaves classic Disney sequences with verite scenes from Owen’s life in order to explore how his identification and empathy for characters like Simba, Jafar, and Ariel gave him a means to understand his feelings and allowed him to interpret reality. Beautiful, original animations offer rich insights into Owen’s fruitful dialogue with the Disney oeuvre as he imagines himself heroically facing adversity as a member in a tribe of sidekicks.

Owen’s story is a moving testament to the many ways in which stories can serve as a means of persevering through the dark times, leading us all toward the light.


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