Disney’s Autism shorts will leave you in tears

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Photoed and Drawn by Abby Schreiner

Temple Grandin, a professor at UNC, shares her views on Autism from personal experience.

Abby Schreiner, Staff Reporter

Created by Abby Schreiner based off of previous studies
Autism has grown into an epidemic over the past 50 years.

As part of the new Disney+ app, Disney released a series of Autism short films that will bring you to tears. Disney’s Sparkshorts show how even the smallest of acts can significantly affect both people with autism and the people surrounding them.

 Autism is a developmental disorder associated with difficulty in social interactions and communications or by restricted and repetitive patterns of thought and behavior. The amount of difficulty in this group of conditions is measured on a spectrum. The Autism spectrum ranges from high to low variability. 

 These short films have such a sense of realism, that have in certain cases, brought people to tears. Diana Fortunado, a para at BEES and proud mother of a son with autism said, “I felt happiness to see a short film about how I felt, but I also felt sadness because children with autism are many times judged and misunderstood. I had a mix of feelings and I cried a lot.” 

These shorts tap into what it is like to be the parent or friend of a person on the spectrum. Kēoki Maguire, a child on the spectrum and a student at EMS, said, “I felt nothing and everything at the same time.”

 In the short film Float, a single father is shown trying to manage his son’s autism, but has a hard time with the stigma he feels from other people. Through this animation, the father slowly spreads himself too thin until eventually he breaks emotionally in a public park. However, at his lowest moment, his son comes to his side in an effort to comfort his father. At this moment the father stops caring about everyone else and begins to look at his son as a beautiful human being. This short film shows how socially excluded people who have autism and the people who care for the autistic can be and the amount of freedom there is in letting go of the opinions of others. 

A person who understands this concept well is Temple Grandin. Temple Grandin is a UNC professor who came out about her autism. She was one of the first people with autism to speak out about how people with autism perform just as well as everyone else. To further her point, Temple Grandin said, “There needs to be a lot more emphasis on what a child can do instead of what they cannot do.”

The short film Loop showcased an entirely different aspect of autism. Loop picked apart the challenge of communication that people with autism often face. Kēoki’s mom, Danielle Mozeika Maguire, said, “I felt worried for the girl and how she was going to communicate…until she did. Then I was super proud of her for using her means to get her point across.”

Each short film portrays different aspects of autistic struggles whether that be the inability to communicate as everyone else, or facing the stigma of being different. As of now, this eye-opening series only includes Float and Loop; however many viewers are looking forward to more. The question is, with so many other aspects of autism that haven’t been explored, “What will they cover next?”

There are many other aspects of autism that haven’t been explored by Sparkshorts. Fortunado said, “I would like to see how children with autism can go from non- verbal to verbal.” Kēoki Magurie said, “I think showing that sometimes we say stuff without thinking because we have to say it. Or the OCD’s like having to line stuff up just right.” 

Danielle Maguire said, “There’s so much to consider. Like the inability to process anything in an agitated state. Or the inability to recall events after a meltdown.” There is so much to see when it comes to the world of autism. With an entire community of people with autism, each case is unique. From their level on the spectrum and how their personality shines to their tics and anxieties, these shorts could be, and are ground breaking for everybody who is in the autism realm of people. With an entire world of possibilities to explore, Disney could turn the Autism community inside out. It is now up to them where they will take us next.