Welcome to Life, Animated

Our son Owen, like so many with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), has an ‘affinity’—in his case, a deep connection to the Disney movies he’s watched countless times to make sense of an often-bewildering world. We wrote about Owen in Life, Animated, and received scores of letters describing affinities from anime to Minecraft to maps. That’s why we started this site: to share Owen’s story and to create a platform (the Autism Affinities Project) for others to share stories of their own.

We hope you'll join us in gathering and exploring the breathtaking range of expression — impeccable renderings of movie scenes, intricate art, musical performances, stirring videos, and sheer feats of recall — that affinities inspire. Here we make them visible to an appreciate public.

Click to learn more about Affinity Therapy.

UPDATE: Owen's YouTube channel is up and running! Here he will share his affinity for Disney with the world, showcase his original artwork, find amazing Disney collectibles on ebay for eager Disney fans and bidders, interview special guests from Disney movies and more! Click here to check out Owen's channel.

Autism Affinities Project – Rei_Ayanami_00

The magic of Disney World for individuals on the Autism Spectrum is indisputable, but what exactly is it about Disney World that has so many differently-abled individuals enchanted for life? Reddit user Rei_Ayanami_00, a 22-year-old woman with autism, discusses the sense of belonging she feels when at Disney World in a recent post. Here are […]

Autism Affinities Project – Simon

A few months ago, we received a note from Jaime Jenett about an experience she had with her son, Simon. When Simon was just 3 months and 3 weeks old, he was diagnosed with a rare heart condition – Cardiomyopathy. A little over five years later, Simon was diagnosed with autism. Like Owen, Simon will […]

Autism Affinities Project – Connor Gross

A few weeks ago, Autism Speaks profiled Connor Gross, an MMA fighter with autism. In the short video by TITLE MMA, Gross talks about his experiences discovering his affinity, building honest connections with others, and pursuing a meaningful life. “When I found something that I really was into, it came really easy for me. One […]

Autism Affinities Project – Casey


Many children are fascinated by transportation, as the enduring popularity of toy cars and the success of shows like “Thomas the Tank” go to show. But here at the Affinities Project, we’ve noticed a pronounced trend among children on the autism spectrum to harbor a deep passion for — and uncanny knowledge of — transportation infrastructure. From maps to […]

Autism Affinities Project – Nate


This latest post comes from Shannon, yet another fellow parent of a child with autism who harbors a deep affinity for Disney. Shannon reached out to Ron on Twitter, which is a great way of coming to our attention (but only if you’d rather not use the forms on the site, which we always encourage)! […]

Autism Affinities Project – The Art of Autism


The story of yet another uplifting autism organization, rooted in affinities and the beautiful creations they engender, comes to us from a fellow parent-turned-activist that Ron met at the Walt Disney Family Museum in January. The Art of Autism is a collaborative of artists, poets, entrepreneurs, and entertainers on the autism spectrum that showcases the […]

Autism Affinities Project – Exceptional Minds

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On February 3rd, Ron spoke at the Semel Institute’s Open Mind lecture at UCLA, in a rare yet extremely powerful coalescing of renowned autism researchers from the medical community and prominent creators from the entertainment industry.  Little did Ron know that some of these creators had prepared a special treat: the vocational school Exceptional Minds surprised him […]

Autism Affinities Project – Shane


On February 2nd, online news site IOL (Independent Online) came out with a fascinating article profiling South African artist Shane Dennis. Shane, who lives in Johannesburg, was diagnosed with ASD at age 3. His parents chart a progression through art and media not dissimilar from Owen’s in many ways. His father Ronald Dennis tells reporter Nontando Mposo that Shane was only 5 “when he started to write words. He always watched movies with English subtitles and started to associate the sounds with the spelling. The first thing he wrote in class was ‘Walt Disney Pictures present Finding Nemo’, in exactly the same font as in the movie on a blackboard. He wrote ‘EXIT’ with chalk on the carpet.” Not unlike Owen, Shane used his favorite movies to teach himself how to read and write.

Autism Affinities Project – Ian and Autistry Studios


I have often spoken and have written elsewhere about the moment I truly entered the world of my son, Ian. When Ian was very young (2 to 4 years old) he had very little language. However, he could recite entire Disney movies word-for-word – especially Winnie the Pooh. During that period he also did not sleep at night, so my husband, who had to get up early for work, slept in Ian’s racecar-bed and Ian snuggled up with me. One night when Ian was happily reciting lines from The Blustery Day, I jumped in and took the part of Tigger: “The wonderful thing about tiggers, is tiggers are wonderful things. Their tops are made out of rubber. Their bottoms are made out of springs!” Ian whipped his head around, looked me right in the eye…and then burst into laughter. With a huge smile he welcomed me into his world.