Sit back for a moment and imagine yourself flying through the air on a magic carpet with Aladdin.  Next, let’s dive down deep into the ocean to visit Ariel.  Finally, let’s go to Africa to spy on Simba and his pride of lions.  Disney has created some great movies through the years.  Visual screen technology, whether by Disney or some other company, can help us better understand and learn about the world around us.  For a person with autism, it can open a door to improved language and social interaction.  
This past week I was reading some articles about children with autism and how they learned to communicate while watching movies and television shows. The article written by Ron Suskind, entitled “Reaching my Autistic Son Through Disney”, appeared in the March 7th, 2014, New York Times.  It was a delightful account of this family’s journey with their son, and how thinking out of the box really helped him.  Not only did it help their son’s speech, but it also helped him as he grew to form relationships with others through the avenue of watching and discussing Disney movies.  
In our own journey, we used American Girl movies to help teach social skills.  On specific event comes to mind.  While at an open gym time, some girls kept taking the ball away from our daughter. We stood by on the sidelines and watched to see what would happen.  Our daughter would just move on to another ball each time.  After a while it was obvious that the girls were just being mean and seeing what they could get away with.  However, it turned out to be a great learning lesson for both our daughter and the girls. 
  We went home, and I got out “Clarissa” – the American Girl movie about bullying.  We sat and watched the movie together.  I paused it at certain spots so we could discuss how the words were being said and what facial expressions were on the girl’s faces in the movie.  It was amazing to see the light bulb go on with our daughter!  A few days later we saw the same girls at another event.  Our daughter went to them and said, “I know you were just being mean to me when you took my ball all the time.  I understand now, and it won’t happen again!” The other girl’s mouth dropped to the floor.  I stood extremely proud because I knew that our daughter got it!  Needless to say, the next open gym time was very fun, and they all played together with the balls.  
Movies can play an important role with people on the spectrum. Not only will movies help with language, but also with the social aspect which can be hard to teach. Thinking outside the box and using movies to teach these skills can open up “A Whole New World” for children on the spectrum!