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)! Here is her son Nate’s story, told in Shannon’s own words below:
My son’s love of Mickey started really young, about 1. He really responded mostly to the music and colors, just flapping his little arms away! As he got closer to 2, we began to notice that despite his speech delay in other areas he could recite back songs and other parts of his favorite Disney Jr shows. He could recite whole episodes at times! Once we received his diagnosis at 2 and began speech therapy, more and more we saw that he would take lines from shows and songs and use them when he didn’t know the right thing to say. Many times it made sense, while other times it didn’t; we didn’t care because it was his way of communicating. Many people told us to not let him watch so much TV but we saw the good it was doing, we saw how his little face lit up when that song came on and he saw Mickey wave hello; how over time he began to understand social situations and showed empathy. Not to mention the pretend play we were told he might never do!
Nate has since been discharged from speech therapy and is doing much better with his speech, but he still clings to his Disney friends. He mimics doing the right thing he sees from Jake, has started understanding about emotions from Sophia, and learns about being a good friend from Sherif Callie – but Mickey will always be his best buddy and oldest friend!
Recently, Shannon took Nate to Disney World. Like Owen, Nate found himself right at home, in the perfect context for him. Shannon tells us:
Disney was just so magical for Nathan. He was making eye contact with the characters and, in his way, initiating contact. And he remembers! He remembers dancing with Chip and hugging Jake and having breakfast with Mickey. I would take him every year if we could just to relive that magic. Mr. Disney could have no idea just how far reaching his characters have been, but we are forever grateful to that mouse and what he has given our family!
Thank you Shannon for sharing your story with the Affinities Project. We always have our eyes out for stories and data about the affinities of those with autism and the amazing art, creativity, and other breakthroughs they incite, so if you have a story of your own to share, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or use the poll here.