Tommy’s Disney “affinity” shared by Owen Suskind and so many others

February 26 2017
“On the movie screen, forty feet tall, Owen seems like one in a million. We believe he is one among millions, whose powerful interests are as varied as stars in the sky, and whose potential remains largely untapped. Let’s tap it together.” Ron Suskind, Owen’s dad, in his blog post talking about Owen at the Oscars tonight!
Owen’s story is so very similar to Tommy Des Brisay’s – they both memorized all the lines from every Disney movie, and the movies and characters helped them make sense of the world. Like the Suskind family, we chose to join Tommy and share his joy in quoting the movies and relating to the characters, and it became a wonderful way to communicate with Tommy as his language grew. When Tommy discovered the subtitles and closed captioning on his beloved movies, his language blossomed further, because for Tommy the written word has always supported his speech and comprehension. We are so glad we followed Tommy’s lead always, ignoring the advice from some professionals who insisted we turn off his movies, and instead buying more and encouraging his joy as he discovered and befriended each new story and character!
We love the Suskind’s term “affinities”, and share their philosophy for honouring and encouraging the many varied gifts, talents, and passions of those on the Autism spectrum. Tommy’s lifelong affinity for constant movement and running has become one of his greatest joys and successes! While running, he has always quoted Disney movies, sang Disney songs, imagining himself as Hercules, Aladdin, Dash, and other beloved characters. Singing songs like “One Jump Ahead” from Aladdin, he has light heartedly bounded along race courses, finding great joy in his running successes, always bringing his Disney character friends along for the run in his imagination. The Disney characters are his constant companions in all areas of his life, and Disney movies always provide him just the right language and stories he needs to help communicate his thoughts and feelings in any situation, and help him express himself, and process or cope with the saddest, scariest or happiest moments in his life. Like Owen, Tommy’s affinity for Disney has helped him connect with others- his family, his teachers, his many friends, especially his incredible online community of friends who found his YouTube videos and share his affinity for Disney, as well as his many friends from the Disney parks- fellow guests, cast members and the characters themselves! Through Tommy’s love of Disney, he has also made so many friends who are autistic too, and who share his and Owen’s affinity for Disney. The joy in connecting with others through shared passions is something all humans share, and connecting with other Disney lovers has become a marvellous community of friends for Tommy. Tommy truly is one among millions who share his affinities. The running community has also embraced him and become a group of friends who share his affinity for running. We know that all people with Autism have unique affinities and through those passions they can find much joy and share that joy with others.
Owen- we wish you good luck tonight! Thank you to Ron and Owen’s whole family for sharing your story with the world. We hope to meet you one day! Tommy would be thrilled to recite Disney movies together with you, Owen 🙂
To Tommy’s friends- if you are not already following Life, Animated, check out their page, and the film! And in the comments below, please tell us about your unique affinities and how they have brought joy in your life! Autistic or not, please share with us how Disney and other passions have changed your life and helped you make connections 🙂

PS Although Life, Animated didn’t win the Oscar last night, Owen had an amazing experience and made history in the Autism Community! Check out Ron Suskind’s Facebook page and Twitter for photos from last night! Very exciting!
Also, please check out the Affinities survey at this link on Owen’s Sidekicks website and fill it out if you wish:…
#WhatsYourAffinity #DifferentNotLess #LifeAnimated

Life, Animated
February 26 at 9:30am ·
Oscars Tonight! Who’s tuning in to see Owen and family on the Red Carpet?
(Blog article by Ron Suskind via Autism Speaks)

Why this man with autism is being honored at the Oscars
If you’re watching the Academy Awards this weekend, you’ll see Owen Suskind, and here’s why…

Tommy at Olympic Training Center, Chula Vista, California

February 19 2017
We are back home in Ottawa! Tommy was in California for a long time! He was in Chula Vista at the Olympic Training Center from Jan 21 to Feb 9. He made new amazing friends, trained very hard, and learned many incredibly valuable things on this part of his journey as a T20 para athlete dreaming to race at the World Championships this summer in England, and in Tokyo 2020.

Then his trip to California took him to Disneyland in Anaheim, where he had the joy of reconnecting with some wonderful old Disney character friends, some longtime YouTube friends, and meeting some dear YouTube friends in person for the first time. What an adventure, and what fun to spend time discovering all the magic at Disneyland with our dear friends Alyssa and VJ, Hannah, Dana and Scott, Lindsay, Valeria and Mason- your companionship and support made the magic so much more special! We were also grateful to be lucky enough to unexpectedly cross paths with friends like Jamie and her family, and many other YouTube friends, and also make so many brand new friends in the parks as Tommy reached out in his friendly way to so many kids and their families along the way.

Also, a very touching moment was our day in Marina Del Ray and Santa Monica, where Tommy reconnected with Farnaz and her husband Robbie. Farnaz was a therapist who worked with Tommy in 1997, when he was 5 years old. 20 years later, Tommy had his first conversation with her. It was incredible to see them chatting away together. We also visited the apartment where we stayed when Tommy was 5, and he led us from the pool area right to the door of our apartment. He remembered it all. What a great experience to take Tommy back to where we stayed 20 years ago, and how wonderful that Farnaz met him again! Thank you to each and every person who joined Tommy in his California adventure over the past few weeks, for being a part of making Tommy’s trip so fantastic.

There are lots of great photos and videos….we will be posting them little by little over the next while. Can’t wait to share the special moments with all of Tommy’s friends via his YouTube channel 🙂 Stay tuned 🙂

View this post on Facebook: Des Brisay-Autism Means Friendship

Visiting Disneyland, 20 years after first attempt at age 5

February 12 2017
20 years ago, Tommy visited Disneyland at age 5 while in California for Autism therapy in 1997, but things didn’t go well at all. After about 2 hours of meltdown, we had to leave the park.
The Casey Junior train was closed for renovation, and Tommy saw it but didn’t understand that it was closed. Tommy always loved trains. Tommy’s lack of communication or speech at age 5 made the visit impossible for him.
After training at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, San Diego, it was time for Tommy to visit Disneyland again! And ride that train! Whee!
Thank you to Tommy’s friend Alyssa for filming Tommy’s first ride on Casey Junior, and joining us for his first day back at Disneyland! oxox

Tommy wins Running-Road Racing award- Ottawa Sports Award 3rd time

February 2 2017
For the 3rd year in a row, Tommy Des Brisay won the award in Running- Road Racing at the Ottawa Sports Awards banquet last night here in Ottawa. Because Tommy is training right now at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, California, he wasn’t there to receive the award. But Tommy wants to say thank you for the award, and thank you to everyone who supports him in the Ottawa running community, and his friends at the Ottawa Lions Track and Field Club, for being such a huge part of his running journey! It means so much to be surrounded by such a great community of people!

Here are the links to the YouTube videos when Tommy won this same award for 2014 and 2015.

Tommy would have loved to be there last night, to cheer for all the other amazing athletes in other sports who were recognized for there incredible achievements! Congratulations! <3 Here is what was written about Tommy regarding this year's award: RUNNING (ROAD RACING) - TOMMY DES BRISAY: Tommy was selected the road racer of the year at the recent Ottawa Lions banquet. This 25-year-old came very close to making the Canadian Paralympic team for the Rio Games in the T20 class for athletes with intellectual disabilities. The problem is all the Paralympic races are too short for a distance runner of Tommy’s abilities. He won the 2016 half-marathon race at the Canadian Army Run with a personal-best 1:12:24, winning by almost two minutes over second place and finishing ahead of over 8,500 participants. He added more wins at the Scotiabank Canada Day 5 km, the Wakefield Moon River 10 km and the Nine Run Run half-marathon race. A previous winner of our award for this sport, Tommy is looking forward to the next IPC Athletics World Championships when the 5000 m distance will be added.