A few days ago I saw a Disney Pixar short film called “Float”, and it broke my heart. The day that I saw it, I watched it probably 20 times and sobbed. I shared it with my husband and watched his heart break as he played it too.
Since that day, I feel like I have been processing so many emotions, I feel sick and exhausted. I know that it is due to the feelings that came up when watching that film. I highly recommend that every parent should watch this, and you can do so on Disney+, or watch this powerful video that was shared by Super Jax on Facebook.
Float is a short film that is one of the most impactful animations that I have personally seen which represents life as a parent and a child with additional support needs.
It is poignant, eye-opening, heart-opening, and devastating all in one.
Bobby Rubio is the writer, director, and producer of the film and is the father of a child with autism, and he created the movie based on his own experiences.
It isn’t about autism specifically, instead of something that represents anyone who could be seen to be different in the world. In the film, it shows a father whose son is able to fly. But for so many of us with a child with additional support needs, you watch it and can see so much truth and know exactly what it represents.
In watching this short film I felt almost every different emotion in the short few minutes that it lasts. Pride, Fear, Disappointment, Love, Frustration, Strength, Anger, Admiration, Guilt, Inspiration, Worry. Every emotion that as a mother of a daughter with autism I feel on an almost daily basis. It is depicted in such a way that you can’t help but relate.
From the happiness and majesticness of the child, the awe of the parent in seeing their child’s unique potential, the shame in seeing how others respond with fear or rejection, the isolation of the family, and how you can see them both fade as time passes.
I will never forget the day my father told me that he felt my light was dimming. Brings tears to my eyes even now. Parenting a child with additional support needs is not for the faint of heart, but that isn’t because of “who the child is”, it is due to the way societal expectations are set up to isolate those that are considered “different” and the lack of support available to these families and children.
We live in a society that is built on judgment, rejection, segregation, and ableism.
Not to mention racism, sexism, and every other kind of ism that is out there. A world where people prefer to like a pretty Facebook profile rather than react or respond to any of the things that really matter in the world. A society that doesn’t allow a child like mine to fully thrive unless I fight tooth and nail in order for her to do so.
As a parent, I have had to advocate and sacrifice so much to enable my daughter to thrive. And I would fight and sacrifice 10x more. There is a shaming that happens to parents to talk about how difficult it can be to raise a child with autism, and I understand why that is, because I would never wish for my daughter to feel like she is a burden. She is not, she is my light and my inspiration. But the reality of the way our society is set up means that there is a huge weight and strain on parents of children with autism to help their children thrive in SPITE of their environment. And it has to be okay for these parents to be seen and receive support.
For our sufferings I 100% blame society and not my child. My daughter is amazing, you only have to look at her to see that. And the moment people begin to accept and love those that are different to themselves is the day when her life and mine will become so very much easier. It’s my job to help my daughter be able to be who she is and fly. And I am in awe DAILY of every leap and hurdle she overcomes in spite of the challenges that face her.
In Float, you see how this child who could be deemed as “different” has his own potential but those who don’t understand it are scared. Other parents keep their children away out of fear or lack of understanding and the family ends up isolated and hiding, feeling unable to fit in. Part of this stems from the parent’s fears, another part from the realities of their interactions with the world around them.
What happens as a result is you see the parent trying to hide who his son really is, feeling frustrated with him, and literally stopping him from flying. He weighs his son down with rocks and questions his son why he can’t just be normal. At this moment you see the soul of his child diminish and hurt. And you see the realisation hit the parent. When he accepts his child for who he is, despite the world’s fear, judgment, and rejection the child is able to fly again.
It shows the turmoil of a parent of a child who is different, in trying to keep them safe, while wanting to honour who they are. This video is so powerful to me as it shows the plight of both the parent and the child. It represents how they have to believe and trust in each other despite what the world is trying to do around them. And how they need to choose each other over other people’s discomfort.
And finally to Erin
I’m sorry for the times that I let other people’s judgment change what I should have done to make sure you could be who you needed to be.
I’m sorry that the world can be isolating and scary and I love how we are building a world and sanctuary of our own.
I’m sorry for letting them dim my light and thank you for helping me let it keep shining in spite of everything we have to go through together.
And thank you for showing me and those around you all your magic so unapologetically. As Elsa says… and you sing so loudly…Show yourself.
I’ve never felt so certain
All my life I’ve been torn
But I’m here for a reason
Could it be the reason I was born?
I have always been so different
Normal rules did not apply
Is this the day?
Are you the way
I finally find out why?
I’m no longer trembling
Here I am
I’ve come so far
You are the answer I’ve waited for
All of my life
Oh, show yourself
Let me see who you are