An Oscar-Nominated Film Inspires a New Approach to Autism

In an additional effort to fill that gap, Autism Speaks—the largest autism-related advocacy organization in the U.S.—has collaborated with the Sidekicks group to conduct an online survey that will attempt to measure the prevalence of affinities among kids with autism. The survey, which launched today, will examine the various types of affinities, whether they are a help or a hindrance and how individuals use their affinities, along with a great deal of related information. Given the organization’s reach of 1.7 million followers of its Facebook page, this promises to be the largest and most comprehensive survey ever done on the subject.

Suskind has high hopes that the survey will ultimately help individuals who share the same or related affinities to connect with one another in virtual communities. “With Autism Speaks and with other autism organizations we will build out community forums and sites for people to gather around the campfire of their shared passions,” he explains. It is part of what he sees as a movement that “will not only change how we see people on the spectrum, but how we judge what they have to offer.”

An Oscar, of course, would add little glitz to that movement. On Sunday night, Owen, his parents and older brother will step onto the red carpet at the Dolby Theater in Los Angeles. The two young men will be wearing tuxedos by designer Tommy Hilfiger, himself an “autism dad.” For a journey that began with Disney films, it’s a fitting milestone.

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