Message Font: Serif | Sans-Serif
No. of Recommendations: 29
I know someone who doesn't care if failed. She is unfazed by Eisner's stock options. She doesn't even care if California Adventure goes bankrupt.

She's 10 years old, her name is Andrea, and she's autistic.

My daughter made a new friend, Liz, at school, and they've been trading play time over each other's house. I met Liz's family including her sister Andrea this weekend.

Andrea is generally out of touch with her surroundings except whatever pure and raw emotion controls her at any particular time. Living in a farm setting in a grove of trees, it was almost eerie to hear her screaming bloody murder for 10 minutes, because her older brother went over the neighbors to play. I have never heard a more echo-ing, dominating whale in my life than that of her deafening screeches, bouncing off the surrounding trees and house. My head literally reverberated with her ear-drum rattling sobs.

Such is a normal thing at my daughter's friend's house.

Liz came to spend the night with my daughter last night and I couldn't help but think about Andrea. Poor Andrea, who doesn't get invited over to the neighbors to play with the same little girl, her age by the way, that her older brother is always asked to come over and play with. Andrea, who sits at home with only the echo of her tormented soul crying out in that grove of trees, to keep her company. That, and of course her mother, who at times like these is unable to console her. She's learned that she can only let Andrea get it out of her system.

We all went to see Shrek. Me, Sarah, and Liz. Andrea stayed home, again.

Trying to guide my daughter in parental ways that us dads should, I asked Sarah if she had any chldren's videos that she thought Andrea may like. Liz told me that Andrea loves videos.

Sarah dug up an old Pooh video. We took it to the kitchen counter where I rummaged through the junk drawer for some tape, so that she could tape a "To Andrea, From Sarah, with love" note to the slightly worn video.

What luck. We came across an old Pooh bag from Walt Disney World, just big enough for the video to fit nicely in. I also came across a little Minnie figurine, about an inch and a half tall. I said "here, throw this in there too."

We took Liz home, and Sarah gave Andrea the gift.

This time that grove of trees echoed only with the sound of joy and love, as Andrea exclaimed at the top of her ungs...

Turns out that autistic children almost always have a fixation on something in particular. As Andrea's mom explained, for some it may be something totally illogical, such as stop signs. With Andrea, wouldn't you know it...her fixation is with little figurines, about an inch and a half tall.

I write this with moist eyes.

For the half hour I was there chatting with Liz's mom and dad, Andrea held Minnie with both hands, her tiny little fingers (she's physically underdeveloped) pinching the tiny little Minnie by each of her arms. She smiled from ear to ear for a half hour straight.

Andrea doesn't care what Disney's pro-forma profit or one-time charges are this year. She doesn't care if Dreamworks takes a little of the market away from Disney. She's so in tune with basic emotion and raw feelings that she, maybe above geniuses, industry analysts, and Disney experts on Motley Fool, is qualified to share what Disney means.

That little piece of Disneyana that she now holds in her hands probably even as I write this, represents shared joy and communication that you normally can't get from her. A hello, a "my, what a pretty little girl," or anything else that other children respond to don't seem to penetrate her protective shell of isolation. But the Disney gifts to her brought an eagle-spread, open-armed embrace and kiss on my daughter's cheek.

Thanks, Disney. You made her day. And my day too.

Paul T.
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 0
I read your post right when I got home from the Store -- so sore I could hardly move. I feel much better now.

That's pure Magic, Paul. Thanks for sharing it.


Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 0
That is a wonderful story.....Disney does make magic happen.
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 1
Thank you to you and to Kottmyer for the nice words.

And to Kottmyer: I'm glad to hear that some Cast Members go home from The Disney Store with sore muscles from working so hard. Keep up the good work!

Thanks to those recommending the post. It lifts the spirits to know that true Disney magic is as important to those of us in this forum, as the negative stories sometimes seem to be.

Paul T.
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 0
And that is why it is important that this company stay financially healthy so that future generations can have the Disney Magic to share.

Would this child have responded the same way to something from Universal Studios? I doubt it.

Great story Paul.

Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 1
A wonderful, wonderful story, Paul. I'm planning a WDW trip for August, and this just makes me all the more excited about when I can get there and walk through the magic, too...

~ mike
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 0
Mike: A wonderful, wonderful story, Paul. I'm planning a WDW trip for August, and this just makes me all the more excited about
when I can get there and walk through the magic, too...

Thanks Mike. It is wonderful how Andrea's spirits were so brightly lit that day. I wish there were more that our family could do for her.

I grew up with a sister w/Down's Syndrome and I think that has made me have heightened sensitivity to children that often can't participate in quite the same way as others.

Andrea and her family live on a nice rural piece of property that they have worked hard to develop/remodel for 17 years. Outwardly, they appear to be a typical American homestead, yet, I sense that they don't have a lot of money, the mom having to stay home with Andrea most of the time and all. They have never been to a Disney park either.

I felt bad when I asked them if they've been to WDW. The mom, Sue, was wearing an EPCOT shirt so I thought it was an appropriate question. I could see the dad get uncomfortable when I asked. I said...."oh, I just thought...since Sue was wearing the EPCOT shirt..."

He said "She probably picked it up at a second hand store."

I felt really bad then.

But what makes me feel bad still, is knowing that despite that wonderful few moments we were able to help Andrea experience, she has a lifetime of strife ahead of her. A lifetime of not being invited places.

I felt like crying when Sue was explaining to me how the few neighbors they have, invite the boy over to play with children that are Andreas age, but they don't invite Andrea over.

Jeez it just about makes me cry just to write that.

You know what? The little Minnie Mouse figurine that brought Andrea so much joy, was from Walt Disney World too. We had bought a half dozen of them, a couple of Goffie ones, a Mickey one, a Minnie Mouse one or two, just to have around the house. A couple of them we bought for gifts, but never did we think something so seemingly small would bring such an outburst of joy for someone who rarely has cause to celebrate.

So I'm going to remember that next time we go to WDW, and make sure we stock up on knick-knacks that just may be able to make some, perhaps unfortunate, child's day.

Paul T.
Print the post Back To Top