(NEWS CENTER) -- Owen Suskind was a lively two year old, happy, outgoing, talkative. He was like other kids his age--until the day he wasn't.
He no longer wanted to eat or drink, he cried inconsolably, and his vocabulary of about 200 words shrank to just one: juice. Owen had developed what's known as regressive autism. He had, as his parents put it, vanished.
Ron Suskind tells his son's story in his book “Life, Animated,” an account of how, after four years behind a wall of silence, Owen finally began communicating with his parents when he and they conversed as characters from Disney animated movies. The breakthrough came when Owen spoke like Jafar in “Aladdin” and Ron talked like Iago. “Owen changed, but we changed too,” Suskind says. A door that seemed to be shut forever had opened, and the Suskinds could talk with their son.
Suskind's book led to a documentary about Owen, and Ron now travels around the country offering advice on how families can adapt to autism. “Virtually everyone on the spectrum has something they love,” he says. “We call it their affinity. It could be maps or mirrors or medieval poetry or paleontology. Find what it is, and find a way in.”
The Suskinds have been fortunate. Now in his twenties, Owen lives on Cape Cod with a fair degree of independence. His life has been an inspiration to his parents and brother. “And that's the way it is for so many families,” Suskind says. “Their best teacher is often this person who can say the least.”
Ron Suskind was in Maine to speak at an event sponsored by Maine Behavioral Healthcare.
Its Center for Autism & Developmental Disorders provides a range of services for families dealing with autism. It's also involved in research into autism. You'll find more information here's a link to its website: https://mainehealth.org/maine-behavioral-healthcare/services/autism-developmental-disorders/cadd