After seeing Inside Out with her son Tate, who has autism, Lisa believes the film can be used as a valuable tool to better understand emotions.
My thirteen-year-old son Tate has autism. Tate has a “thing” for movies. He has the release date of all the movies he is interested in (which include most G and PG rated ones) on our calendar. I don’t know how he does it, but before most of us have seen the first trailer for a new movie, he has the release date on the calendar and has memorised the actors involved in the making of the movie.
Tate spends most of his waking minutes thinking about movies and talking about movies. So, of course on the opening day of Disney’s “Inside Out” Tate woke with great joy (pun intended.) He toe-walked and bounced as he paced all over the house in anticipation. I was a bit apprehensive myself. We had been told earlier in the week Tate should avoid popcorn as he has just gotten braces on his bottom teeth. Tate was not happy about this news and had been telling me all week the orthodontist must have been mistaken. But we went to a favourite restaurant before the movie, got some m&ms and a bottle of water, and settled into our seats without incident over the missing bucket of popcorn. This break in routine, without a meltdown was huge.
I accompany Tate to many movies and about half of them are not interesting to me in any way. But I watched this movie closely, all the while watching Tate too. In my opinion, the first five minutes of the movie were absolutely amazing. We were introduced to the emotions of a baby girl named Riley. There was Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear and Disgust. Each character was well defined and I watched Tate’s reaction. He was totally consumed.
Although the movie was mostly about Riley and her five emotions, we were exposed to personifications of other characters’ emotions too. We saw Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear and Disgust as illustrated for Riley’s teacher, a dog, a cat, a clown and a few of the other people in Riley’s life. Every character had the same five emotions that were almost identical in appearance.
I began to ponder at that point, what would it look like if I were able to illustrate those five emotions for Tate in the same way they had done in this movie? Joy would sit at Tate’s control panel and giggle for long periods of time while everyone around him wondered why. Sadness would be very confused, underdeveloped and never able to convince Tate to cry, while Anger would be able to produce tears when he was provoked. Disgust would be overactive. Almost every food the rest of us eat would cause that character to recoil and gag. Smells other people barely notice would be a problem for Disgust too. Fear would have to be depicted as a hyperactive character who was extremely neurotic for Tate I think. He would always be trying to grab the controls from the other emotions.