Disney movies have long been a source of joy and inspiration for many, but for families navigating the world of autism, these beloved films can be much more—they can be a bridge to understanding and connection. Theresa Forthofer shared how Disney has played a pivotal role in her family’s wellbeing, particularly for her two sons, Ryan (31) and Justin (24), who have autism and Myotonic Dystrophy. (Watch their video about Disney and Inside Out!) Theresa has a family connection with autism and a professional one, too. As CEO of Easterseals DuPage & Fox Valley, she supports families navigating autism and other disabilities every day as they receive services at the center in Illinois. 

The Disney Connection

Like many autistic individuals, Ryan and Justin have a special connection with Disney movies. Their love for these films has brought joy to their lives and provided a unique way for Theresa to engage with them on a deeper level. By watching and discussing Disney movies together, Theresa has found a gateway to understanding her sons’ emotions and interests.

“For us, Disney movies are more than entertainment—they are a tool for emotional connection and understanding,” says Theresa. “Discussing characters and storylines helps us navigate complex emotions and strengthens our family bond.”

Inside Out 2: Sparking Meaningful Conversations

The release of Inside Out 2 has renewed excitement for the Forthofer family. This film delves into the inner workings of emotions and Theresa is eagerly incorporating Proof Positive’s latest resource, Guide on the Side, into their movie-watching experience.

The Guide on the Side is a free resource designed to help families like Theresa’s engage in meaningful conversations about wellbeing and emotions. This guide offers science-informed wellbeing activities and discussion prompts based on the themes of Inside Out, making it an invaluable tool for fostering emotional dialogue.

“Emotional dialogue is key to building strong family relationships and supporting individual wellbeing,” Theresa explains. “Resources like the Guide on the Side make these conversations more accessible and effective,” said Theresa. 

Learn More and Get Involved

To learn more about Theresa and her work at Easterseals DuPage & Fox Valley, watch this video of her discussing autism services, Inside Out, and the importance of wellbeing. 

Disney movies can connect and inspire, and for families navigating autism, this connection is part of leading a flourishing life. Through the lens of Inside Out and with the support of resources from Proof Positive, families can begin to practice the science and skills of wellbeing. 

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