Imagine being trapped inside a Disney movie and having to learn about life mostly from animated characters dancing across a screen of color. "A fantasy? A nightmare?" This is the real-life story of Owen Suskind, the son of the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Ron Suskind and his wife, Cornelia. An autistic boy who couldn't speak for years, Owen memorized dozens of Disney movies, turned them into a language to express love and loss, kinship, brotherhood. The family was forced to become animated characters, communicating with him in Disney dialogue and song; until they all emerge, together, revealing how, in darkness, we all literally need stories to survive.
©2014 Ron Suskind (P)2014 Recorded Books
You should be so lucky to get stuck on a long trip with Ron Susskind doing the talking.This isn't a Pulitzer prize winning writer simply reading his book ... it's a father sharing his family's story revolving around his autistic son Owen.
At the center of the story is Owen, an autistic boy, trapped in his own mind with the only door the Wonderful World of Disney animation.
Susskind breathes life into his son Owen and takes us on a journey revealing the hidden world of autism.
This book will make you laugh ... and cry ... but hearing Owen tell his own story at the conclusion is profound.
5 stars ***** ... a gifted writer tells an intimate family story about a very special son and an army of sidekicks who hold on to him as he fights to connect with life outside his mind ... "Life, Animated" ... is Love, Animated. 5 Stars *****
I cannot use language strong enough to describe how amazing the insights are within this book. I was encouraged through tears and forced to look truthfully within myself and my family and face the realities of living with and raising an autistic child. If your in my situation or are any way aquatinted with an autistic person, you owe it to them and yourself to read this.
Practicing Idealist, Dabbling Realist ;)
I have not experienced first-hand autism in my family and it is only through books such as this that I see how much responsibility it puts on all members of the family. I suspect that the books I read only show the experience via families that have *resources* and the ability and will power to use them. None of what I have read so far are of single-parent and poor families and I wonder what happens to the autistic children born to such circumstances.
Because it is evident there is tremendous work and effort to help autistic children grow to be the best they can be to interact in society.
There is tremendous love and effort shown in this family's story and it shows how much can be accompished - where there is a will and where there is a way.
It's a beautiful story and made me think.
Thank you! As the author explains, this book is not about Disney, per se. It's about a family's love and how stories (many provided by Disney) can give us a way in, and many ways through, life's challenges.
I loved to listen to how this loving and creative family change their lenses to see the world thru their son's eyes - Owen offers lessons for us all.
He was a great narrator - he is a story teller and he is telling a story that is near & dear to his heart.
Highly recommend this for everyone.
This is the amazing story of one family's quest to find their son trapped behind the walls of what we call "autism". It is also a thought provoking study of how any of us makes sense of the world.
Ron Suskind, not surprisingly, is an excellent guide as narrator and the listener gets the added bonus of hearing from Owen himself at the end.
Particularly of interest to those curious about autism spectrum behaviour
The family's dedication to helping Owen and the lengths they go to is both impressive and daunting. Fortunately they had the resources to do this; I couldn't help thinking as I read, how many other families simply wouldn't have a chance to give their son all the many vast advantages that Owen received.
I picked up this audiobook after hearing an interview with the author on NPR. It's written by the father of an autistic spectrum son (Owen), recounting the family's discovery that the boy was locked into a state where all he seemed to be able to understand was Disney movies, and how the family learned to use Disney movie dialog to communicate with him and help him learn to understand the outside world also.
While I'm not a particular fan of Disney, it was a fascinating perspective on them that I'd never seen before. Apparently the original hand drawn classics were animated to have such realistic emotional expressions that the animators kept a mirror at their desk in order to check their drawings against their own facial expressions. Possibly because of these very clear, exaggerated emotions, apparently many kids with autism like symptoms are drawn to the movies, and at least in Owen's case, use them to help learn about and understand "normal" human emotions that are otherwise very difficult for the autistic to interpret.
I wasn't entirely sold on the style of storytelling, and I can't help thinking that the picture of family life portrayed in the book is SO wholesome and Brady-Bunch-idyllic that it makes me wonder exactly how much was swept under the carpet by the father author/narrator. But it was still an interesting and thought provoking read.
By sharing Owen's journey and the first person narrative of a father and mother and brother, Ron Suskind has written a book that is a true guidepost for other families traveling through life with children (and others) on the Autism Spectrum. Thank you, Owen, for sharing your life with us and all the trials and truths you passed through! So many insights that will help me with my seven year old son on the spectrum. You have given us more tools for our toolbox! Long live Sidekicks!
Christian's Mom in Montana
This book started out by capturing my attention and was able to hold it throughout.
I briefly considered calling in late when the final chapter began because I didn't want to put it down!
Secular educator in her mid 40s who used to love to read, but life got to busy. Audible and my commute opened the do0r to literature again.
One of the best because it was so personal.
Not really applicable.
Not really applicable.
How the parents deal with their son on the spectrum. That internal battle you continually have and feel.
Full disclosure - I have a 10 year old son on the autism spectrum. He's "probably" a bit less impacted than Owen Suskind is, but it's similar. We always had speech, but the echolalia and use of scripted language from movies and TV shows was our norm and still can be.
The main takeaway of the book for me is that the parents are trying to reach Owen. And Owen is trying to find is voice to reach the outer world and together they find it - it can be fleeting, and Owen has to be motivated to want to work on it and it's expensive at $60,000 a year in therapies.
And I wonder, does the therapies help? Or is it that Owen figures it out on his own (and the parents follow the lead he's showing them). That's been my experience with my son - he finds the way to rewire his brain to communicate with the outside world. Therapies are hit or miss - mostly miss. Education is mostly miss (unless I guide and teach the schools what to do, but they can't do it as well as I can - which is why we are probably going to home school soon).
The parent's love and commitment to Owen (and to Walter) trumpets throughout the book and it can feel disheartening to think that you need to spend so much $ to "fix" autism. My take away? You don't have to have the same resources to spend. I don't think it's the $$$ in therapies that helped Owen. It was having parents who had the luxury to take the time to observe and listen and to work with him. Eventually they learned/figured out that they couldn't "fix" him (nor should they want to or need to).
I may not agree with the special college and the massive "team Owen" as being intregral, but I get it. If I had the same funds, I would probably do all of that too. I'll be curious to see if the sidekicks movie ever gets made. That would be amazing!
This book basically, was refreshing as it's my life. MILLIONS of our lives - or a variation of it. It's relatable. It's honest. It's our lives as parents and it's a rare glimpse at how another family struggles with something we are still trying to understand.
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