Pulitzer Prize-Winning Journalist, Author
Ron Suskind is the author of six best-selling books, the most recent of which — Life, Animated, A Story of Sidekicks, Heroes and Autism — documents his family’s two-decade struggle with autism. Using a technique called Affinity Therapy, the book recounts how the Suskinds broke through to their autistic son Owen by exposing him to Disney movies, which Owen memorized and used as a pathway to communication. Ron’s technique was demonstrated onstage at Comedy Central’s autism fundraiser, Night of Too Many Stars, where Owen memorably acted out scenes from Aladdin with Gilbert Gottfried.
Ron’s sixth book, Life, Animated: A Story of Sidekicks, Heroes, and Autism, examines his family’s twenty-year struggle with its youngest son, Owen, who is on the autism spectrum. Having lost his speech at age three, Owen seized upon a particular interest in the form of animated Disney movies, which helped him make sense of himself and the world. By memorizing these iconic movies and parroting their dialogue, he learned how to communicate and express himself, prompting his family members to create elaborate stage sets in the Suskind home to re-enact these films and speak Disney along with him. Owen emerged as a teenager with a unique skillset; along the way, he may have created a method for other parents and medical experts to reach autistic kids by following a similar model of emulative expression. This deeply personal but universally resonant presentation is an adventure story of the human heart in which Ron shares stories of Owen’s unique transformation from quiet solitude to animated communication — culminating in a memorable father/son appearance with Jon Stewart on Comedy Central’s annual autism fundraiser, Night of Too Many Stars, where Owen, so long a silent child, joyfully outshines America’s biggest stars. The Suskind motto – your passion is your pathway – now guides educators, therapists, and parents in tapping deep potential in us all.
Life Animated in the Media
Finding Owen: A Boy’s Story
Autism Documentary Falls Short Of Academy Award
‘Life, Animated’ director reveals real-life inspiration behind film’s animation