A boy diagnosed with autism was inspired to talk to his father after a long period of silence through his fascination with Disney films, his father has revealed.
Ron and Cornelia Suskind had just moved to Washington D.C. with their two young children when their two-year-old son, Owen, suddenly stopped talking.
He went from saying "I love you,” “Let's get ice cream,” or, “Where are my ninja turtles?" to one word: "juice."
The Suskinds searched for answers as their once fun-loving and chatty son continued drifting farther away -- no longer speaking or making eye contact.
After dozens of doctors’ appointments and meetings with specialists, the Suskinds finally had a diagnosis: autism.
Like many children with regressive autism, Owen appeared to be developing like any child his age until he suddenly displayed symptoms. Prior to his third birthday he lost his motor abilities, language skills, and the ability to sleep or eat.
By the time Owen was about six years old, his family realized he was not just mimicking the characters - but that he actually understood and related to their emotions.
By recognising that, and embracing his passion for Disney movies, the Suskinds pulled Owen out of his shell.
They spoke to him in Disney voices, incorporated the characters into his therapies and found parts of each movie that helped Owen understand what was going on in the world around him.
Now, aged 23, Owen is attending a transitional college program in Massachusetts where he met his girlfriend, who he's been dating for two years.