I feel like I owe a strange debt to Walt Disney.
See this girl, in the pink?
That’s my little sister Brittny.
Brittny’s 15, a computer genius (as in, she can navigate through the damn thing like it’s nothing) and has an amazing singing voice. She likes to sing songs to pass the time, and sometimes it makes me tear up.
But why tear up?
Because she’s singing a Disney song.
Well, what’s so special about that?
Brittny was diagnosed with Autism when she was two.
I have never met a person who’s had autistic siblings before, so sometimes I feel so alone as I go through life. Brittny didn’t know how to talk, she could only make sounds. She would look at everything around her and smile at things we couldn’t see. She wasn’t able to understand how to go to the bathroom, and since she couldn’t communicate with us she was easily frustrated, but she wasn’t the only one.
Just as Brittny was diagnosed, my brother was born. A year later he too, was diagnosed.
We were left thinking neither would ever say a word to us. Would never tell us what they wanted for Christmas or tell them how their day was.
It was something me and my parents cried over frequently.
But one day, all of that changed.
Those were the days of the VHS, and we owned many of them, and Brittny had taken a liking to watching the tapes.
She would take a movie, watch it, and then when she found parts she liked, she would rewind it over and over again and laugh at the same stuff for hours at a time.
Then one night, it happened. Something I never thought possible.
“Coming to Theaters in 1999.”
I cried that night. It was the first thing I had ever heard her say.
A month later she sang “Supercalafragdilisticexpialidocious,” from Mary Poppins.
Ever since, I am wowed by what she will say or sing.
Though she couldn’t say anything for herself, she was able to mimic what she heard. It took years for her to pick up on what anyone else said, but when she watched a Disney Movie she would have the songs memerized in a few days. She usually didn’t have the best pronuciation, but fuck, who cares at that point? We had given up on the hope of Brittny ever talking, and then suddenly, she was! Who cared if it just happened to be Disney commercials and songs?
It wasn’t till she was 13 when she actually said something that belonged in conversation.
She had lost her shoe, and she went up to our dad and went, “Wh-wheeere is my shooooe?”
She dragged out her vowels and stuttered a bit, but I had never seen my dad so excited.
She’s 15 now and she has her own little iPod touch for streaming YouTube, where she is able to stream whatever Disney related thing she wants.
Brittny will look up Bambi, and she will still cry over the loss of Bambi’s mother. She watches Mulan and she’ll stand in front of the mirror in the bathroom, and sing the song where Mulan screws up the matchmaker stuff and disappoints her father.
Everyday she does this. She watches Disney things, and it makes her happy, and sometimes sad, but everything will be okay because my little sister is speaking.
Disney inspired Brittny to speak, and one day, I hope to take her to Disneyland to experience the magic some more.