There are all kinds of stories about people who broke through the chains of sorrow or longing with the help of cinema. Movies can aid us to heal by offering a space of understanding and catharsis — a conduit for our emotions. A CBS report recently highlighted an incredible story about a young man named Owen.
At three years old, Owen was a chatty child who happily engaged with his family, but when he suddenly stopped sleeping, talking, and lost eye contact with those around him, the family knew something was wrong. Owen was diagnosed with autism, but worse than that, he seemed incredibly unhappy. His parents started to notice that the only thing that seemed to bring him any kind of comfort was watching Disney animated films. In fact, it was Peter Pan and The Jungle Book that inspired Owen’s first words in years.
His father started to use Disney puppets to communicate with his son and get him to share his feelings. Eventually, Owen taught himself to read by studying the movie credits. He also created drawings of his favorite characters. Today, Owen is 23 years old, the leader of a Disney movie club at his school, and he has a girlfriend. Although therapists traditionally teach parents that “obsessions” are unhealthy for autistic children, more studies are being performed to find out how they can be helpful.
In the case of Owen, movies helped him break free and saved his life.
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