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Life Animated: A Tale of Autism & Hidden Potential


Ron Suskind delves deeper into Affinity Therapy, the unique method of emulative communication that the Suskind’s developed to help Owen, their youngest son, emerge from the shadows of autism. Owen, despite limited speech, memorized fifty animated Disney movies. Throw him a line; he’d throw back the next one. When the Suskind’s realized this, they began speaking in Disney dialogue, turning their house into a stage set where they would play out scenes. Over the years, their son’s speech returned. What’s the lesson? Listen to the patient and let them guide you. Ron focuses on the perspectives of both the caregiver and the patient, addressing the importance of a shared language of imagination and demonstrating how myth, fable, and legend still remain humanity’s best pathway to healing.

One of America’s most treasured journalists, best-selling author Ron Suskind brings a Renaissance man’s breadth of knowledge and experiences to the speaking stage. His keynotes and mainstage conversations with notable leaders in the financial world draw upon a career as a Pulitzer-Prize-winning Wall Street Journal reporter.  As an author and journalist, currently, he serves as the co-host of Freak Out and Carry On. This WBUR podcast addresses the urgent political issues of our time through a historical lens.Suskind’s works are frequently characterized by his passion for giving a voice to the voiceless. This is evident in his most recent best-seller, Life, Animated: A Story of Sidekicks, Heroes, and Autism, adapted into an Academy Award-nominated documentary and recently won three News and Documentary Emmys. Life, Animated tells the story of his youngest son, Owen, who, after being diagnosed with autism, found a way to reengage with the world around him. Seizing upon Owen’s love of animated Disney movies, the Suskind family re-enacted the films with him, pioneering a now-widely acknowledged method of emulative communication known as Affinity Therapy.When not writing and speaking, Ron Suskind is a Senior Fellow at Harvard’s Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics, where he serves as a lecturer on narrative and justice. He is also the Founder and CEO of Sidekicks for Autism, which provides a free education app that helps parents deeply connect and communicate with their autistic children. Suskind holds an MA from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism.

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