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Float - a movie about autism parenting

Float: The Movie That Tells the Highs and Lows of Being an Autism Parent

Have you seen “Float”, the new short Pixar Spark film?

If you love someone who is on the autism spectrum, you should.

In six intense minutes, every parent who has ever dealt with a child on the autism spectrum sees the ecstasy and the anguish of trying to be the best possible parent for your child.

A moving story with an insider’s view

Why is it so heart-rending?

Because it is based on director Bobby Rubio’s personal experience of his own son’s diagnosis with autism. And he has honestly laid out the range of emotions he went through.

That initial anguish summed up in just one line. “Why can’t you just be normal?”

The story is not specifically about autism, although the undercurrent is clear. In many ways it could apply to any child who the world labels “different”.

In a nutshell, the story is about a father’s relationship with a boy who has a special ability.

He floats. Literally.

Our hero dad tries to control the situation by keeping his son indoors. He weighs him down with a backpack full of rocks.

But one day, the boy escapes.

And floats around the playground blissfully.

Shamed by other people’s judgement

As you can imagine, this causes some consternation and judgement (eye roll) from the other children’s parents.

Because those other kids don’t float.

And floating is – apparently – disruptive. It’s not “normal”.

It’s wrong.

It’s strange.

The dad buckles under the pressure – because he is ashamed of the other parents’ judgement.

But then he has an epiphany and allows his child to float…freely.

The film ends with this dedication from Rubio to his son.

“For Alex. Thank you for making me a better dad. Dedicated with love and understanding to all families with children deemed different.” 

That made me cry.

Read the full story of how Robert Rubio turned his own personal coming-to-terms-with-a-diagnosis story into this beautiful short film here.

And, if you have six spare minutes, watch it yourself on Disney+.