It has been an action-packed year thus far for the entire Suskind family. On January 13th, Ron, Owen, and Cornelia were featured on the Meredith Vieira show. For those who missed it, you can watch it here.
Then, on February 28th, in what host John Stewart called “one of the highlights of the show,” Owen Suskind took the stage with Gilbert Gottfried during Comedy Central’s annual Night of Too Many Stars autism fundraiser. In front of an audience of thousands (and later on TV, millions) of viewers, the two performed a scene together from Aladdin. The exact dialogue was a bit fuzzy in Gilbert’s memory – however Owen, of course, knew every word and even took over for Gilbert when he forgot his line. The clip of the two of them went viral on YouTube. That same weekend, Owen launched his own personal YouTube channel, where he show offs unique Disney paraphernalia currently available for bid on eBay in a weekly “Finds of the Week” screencast, tours his personal collection of rare Disney items, interviews special guests from the world of Disney, and more.
Shortly after appearing on Night of Too Many Stars, Owen, along with Ron, Cornelia and Dr. Dan Griffin, jetted off to Rennes, France for the first ever International Affinity Therapy Symposium at Rennes University 2 from March 4th – 6th. As the inventors of Affinity Therapy, Ron gave the opening remarks with Cornelia and Dr. Dan Griffin, and then Owen took to the stage with a rousing speech of his own. They were followed by panels of autism researchers from France, Switzerland, Argentina and other countries who presented similar findings from their own work.
Afterwards, Ron headed to Tel Aviv, Israel to speak about Affinity Therapy at Israel’s BrainTech conference. There he addressed some of the top neuroscience researchers and leaders of technology companies from around the world.
Upon returning to the states, Ron and Cornelia Suskind traveled down to Manhattan for back-to-back events at two notable institutions of learning. First, on March 24th, Ron was this year’s honoree as an “individual who has made an outstanding impact in our understanding of autism” at the Learning Spring School’s annual gala. Past recipients of the award include Dr. Temple Grandin’s mother and Marilyn and Jim Simons of the Simons Foundation.
Then, on March 25th, Ron gave a stirring speech at Columbia University on “Narratives of Earned Hope: or the ways adversity can build compensatory strengths.” In front of a packed auditorium at the World Room at Columbia’s Journalism School, Ron drew a strong connection between Life, Animated and his first book, A Hope in the Unseen, in that they both deal with the foremost civil rights issue of our time: how to unleash the hidden capacities buried within “left behind” populations of citizens — our neediest citizens, who often find themselves disadvantaged by an opportunity structure that is biased against them. Many are not used to thinking of the neurologically diverse as belonging to that category. Stay tuned for a video of the event, coming soon.