As previously mentioned, Disney holds a special place in our hearts. While we can’t afford to go to the movies to go see the newest film, we do borrow it from the library as soon as possible. Disney, with the exception of their sequels, tends to make amazing movies that we love. Pixar, on the other hand, is hit-or-miss, and Finding Dory is both.
The movie opens with us getting to look into Dory’s past and see what she was like as a child. Buddy was instantly entranced; they acted so much alike, that he instantly related to her. As the mother of an autistic child, I related strongly to Dory’s mother.
Dory’s mother did her best to help her daughter with her disability. She worked hard at ensuring her daughter felt like she could do anything she wanted to, but secretly, she worried. If something happened to her, what would become of Dory? Who could take care of her and handle her particular needs?
Like Dory’s mother, I have this fear. I stare at my will, in the place that says who I will leave my children with if the worst should happen, and I think, “Who could handle Buddy? Who could give him the support and structure he needs?” My answer is: no one. I have no one I could leave him with. No one is prepared to handle an autistic child unless they have a passion for it, such as a special ed teacher, or if they are a parent. While death is scary, the idea of leaving him behind scares me more.
As we watch the movie and I ponder these thoughts, Buddy looks up at me, and I know. I know that he knows. The apologies from Dory’s mouth have come out of his, word for word. The words from her mother are my words. I realize for the first time that Buddy knows he’s different from other kids, and that it’s hard on me sometimes. It’s a moment I’ve dreaded for some time. What do I say? What can I say that isn’t a lie and won’t make him feel bad?
I pulled him into my lap and said, “Dory’s mother loves her very much, doesn’t she? No matter how hard things get, she always loves Dory and wants to be with her forever, right?” Buddy smiles as he understands, and he wordlessly snuggles with me.
Throughout the rest of the movie, we watch Dory as she struggled with her memory loss. We watched as people looked down at her for it, even said mean things. More importantly, we watched as she found a way to work with it; namely, by taking a moment to calm down and think through the situation logically. Buddy beamed at this, as it’s the same thing we’ve been working on when he gets upset.
All that being said, this movie makes fun of disabilities so many times! A couple of them were painful; Honest Trailers pointed it out as well. The movie makes it seem okay to take advantage of people with mental disabilities. I’m thankful that Buddy didn’t seem to catch that yet; life will teach it to him soon enough.
We as parents are encouraged to teach our children how to handle the world, but that’s wrong. I think we should be teaching the world how to handle our children.
Finding Dory came so close to doing this! For example, there is a scene where Nemo and his father are trapped. Nemo points out that since Dory doesn’t think like them, she sees things they wouldn’t. She’d be able to find a way. They ask themselves, “What would Dory do?”
I spent a day asking myself, “What would Buddy do?” I had a lot of fun! We played, got distracted, played some more, and took a break. And we ate a LOT! I was surprised how much he ate. With my permission to have free reign for the day, he kept food near him at all times. He used to have a hoarding problem, even though he’s never gone without food, but it seems part of it stuck with him. He inhaled fruit, crackers, hot dogs, and yogurt. He ate sun butter out of the jar. He played in the tub (which I did not join him in, but took one after he went to bed) and splashed around, having fun, and didn’t wash himself.
After he was asleep, I realized that I had been so focused on what he would do, that I forgot to look at what he saw. The “mess” that I made him clean up every night (and he would get upset and fight me over) was an intricate battle scene between plants, zombies, and Angry Birds. The crackers were still nearby. I usually grabbed them and put them away, but now that I know how often he takes one to nibble on, I see that it’s easier and faster for him to do this, and it doesn’t break his concentration. Considering I keep a snack near my desk for the times I’m busy with a school project and don’t want to get up and risk breaking my concentration, I can’t blame him for thinking of it.
Probably the favorite thing that I noticed was the blocks. Lily has blocks that she lets him play with, but he doesn’t build with them. I find them all around the house, just laying there, get irritated, and put them away. He gets upset the next morning. This time, as I took a moment to look through his eyes, I was speechless.
I found roadways.
He had laid out a road map of our town! In another room, it was the way to church. To the grocery store. To the library. To school. From room to room, he had put out different patterns that took me time to identify, but they were all definitely maps.
Now I know why he seemed so focused on making what I thought was a mess. Now I know why he gets upset when I move it.
Autism isn’t something that needs to be drilled out of our children’s heads; it’s something wonderful to explore and embrace. It’s something to understand and then take that understanding and turn it into something more.
I’ve picked up grid paper.I’m hoping that Buddy can transfer his map onto paper, and maybe we could put it on a wall for him, or turn into one of those rugs that kids can drive cars on. I wonder what he’ll do with this information. There are so many opportunities for him to do amazing things in this world. I hope the world will let him.