RADIO PRODUCER AND WRITER
Shortly after Ron Suskind’s son Owen turned three, he stopped speaking. After many visits with many different doctors, Owen was diagnosed with regressive autism. Specialists told the family that Owen might never speak again.
As his family adjusted to Owen’s diagnosis, they noticed how much he loved watching animated Disney movies. “It seemed to be the only thing he wanted to do,” Ron says. Ron wondered if those characters might help him connect with Owen.
One night, he put on a puppet of Iago, the parrot from Aladdin. He spoke to Owen as Iago. “So, how does it feel to be you, Owen?” Ron asked his son. Amazingly, Owen spoke back. “Not good,” Owen said. “I am lonely, and I have no friends.”
Disney films became a way for Owen to understand and talk about his world. When he arrived at a college program for kids on the autism spectrum, “the first thing he does when he gets there, is he starts Disney Club,” says Ron, where he found a whole community of people like him.