In mainstream media, representation of children on the Autism spectrum is limited. It was not until 2015, that one of the first characters on the Autism spectrum, Julia, was introduced on Sesame Street. This was a step in bringing awareness to both parents and children. As of recently, Disney’s Pixar released two short films about children that are on the Autism spectrum called Loop and Float, which are both available to watch on Disney+.
Float was released in November 2019 and is about a father that is struggling to accept his young son’s developmental disability. As a baby, his son is very curious, active and struggles to focus. This causes his father to avoid being in public and he hides in their home. One day, the father attempts to give his child a little freedom. He takes his child to the park, but then his “superpower” of floating begins to happen. This is a metaphor for the child’s Autism Spectrum Disorder and Attention Deficit Disorder. The father again becomes scared of what others will think and pulls the child away from what he is doing. The boy starts to have a tantrum and the father becomes frustrated. In the end, the father learns to accept and embrace his child’s differences, and he allows his son to float! This short film is written by a father that had experienced this and wanted to share his story with the world.
On the other hand, Loop was released in January 2020 and is about a non-speaking teen girl, Renee, on the Autism spectrum that is at summer camp. Renee is partnered with a neurotypical boy, Marcus, to go on a paddle boat together. Immediately, the boy realizes that Renee is different than his peers because she is avoiding interaction, rocking and not talking to him. Once the boy figures out how to effectively interact with her and make her comfortable, they enjoy their time together.
Situations like the two presented above in the short films are very common experiences for those with Autism Spectrum Disorder, which is the reason that awareness needs to be raised, especially during April’s Autism Awareness Month! If society takes the time to understand that children are different and if society can develop effective ways to work with children with developmental disabilities, then these children can begin to feel more comfortable around others to share their “superpowers!” Next time you are around someone with Autism Spectrum Disorder, take the time to understand them without any judgment and you will realize just how special they are!
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