Imagine being trapped inside a Disney movie and having to learn about life, language, and emotion mostly from animated characters dancing across a screen of color. A fantasy? A nightmare?
But unlike other autism memoirs there is a layer magic of Disney within the pages of Life, Animated that is captivating and inspiring. There are heroes and sidekicks both searching for the “beauty [that] lies within” and learning to “just use [their] voice.”
What resonated with me the most is the tug or war of emotions when you have a child with autism. I understand Suskind’s desire for “people to see [Owen] as smarter, and more able” and the urge to “fix” autism. And I understand his wife’s need to accept and move forward.
I want to fix that, fix [Owen], but lately Cornelia is saying, maybe we have to think more about enjoying him for who he is and not trying to improve or repair him every minute of every day. — Life, Animated
Autism itself is not always the struggle. Sometimes the struggle is learning to cope with our own expectations for our children.While the Suskind’s share the many joys of their journey, they do not stray from the heartbreak that comes with it.
Elegantly written, full of humor and honesty, poignant and powerful Life, Animated will change the way you look at autism. And you will never watch a Disney movie in the same way ever again.
Disclaimer: I was provided with a copy of Life, Animated for review purposes. All opinions are my own.