I realize there have been several articles written on the connection between autism and the Pixar movie "Inside Out", but I want to preface that you realize not all people with autism are the same so I can only write this from my own perspective. I have read through some of the literature on how the movie helps children with autism. I believe the movie gave many of the children a better sense of what emotions are and the role they play within our own minds. I have to admit that a few years before the movie came out, I actually came up with a manga story that had different characters as emotions inside of a young girl but, the types of emotions were a little different than the movie and the story line was complete different. So idea was there and I felt it would have been an interesting story, I'm really glad Pixar stepped up to tell this kind of a story. Inside Out is a story about a young 11 year old girl named Riley where we get the chance to look inside her head from baby to adolescences. As we view the characterized emotions inside Riley's head, they experience the highs and lows of moving from Minnesota to California.
Dr. Kimberly Sena Moore wrote an interesting piece about the 5 difficult concepts made easier to understand from the movie. I realize she doesn't directly address autistic people, her observations are quite good. Within the material she addresses Basic Emotions, Emotion Development, Memories, Emotional Memories and "Earworms" which are those catchy jingles you hear on TV and radio. I won't go into the details but, I think it's worth a read. I left a link for you to check it out:
For the autism side of this movie and what made it so special within the community, Inside Out gave children who have a difficult time 'expressing' their feelings a chance to visually see the emotions as characters rather than trying to blindly see random feelings. Those of us who have to deal with autism/Asperger’s, being able to sort out the feelings and being able to convey them the correct way is a huge challenge every single time. I remembered a time when I would laugh if I was fearful and angry, or cry if I was positively touched like a good ending to a movie (like Pixar). I know this gets frustrating when you are trying to tell others how you feel and you can't find the right words to describe it. So this leads me to the characters of Joy, Sadness, Disgust, Fear and Anger; with character representing these certain emotion kids can point to or reference one of these characters to others so they understand. Children can be rather irritated when adults can't understand why the child is acting in a certain way and they don't get the message. The Sun News did a review of the movie and made some interesting observations about Inside Out and Autism. I left a link below so you could check it out.
As for a personal review of the movie and my observations in regards to my Asperger's condition, here is what I thought. You need to know that you generally can't go wrong with Pixar. Most of their movies are well thought out and are truly masters of storytelling. (If you don't believe me...watch the first few minutes of their movie - Up.) In this latest installment, they do an excellent job of setting up the story and characters in a matter of minutes. The internal conflicts with Riley’s emotions are a true sign of how we has humans have these battles over the correct emotion that would be needed...hens the term 'mixed emotions'. There is a facet of why this movie is wonderful for those of us with autism so we get the visual reference to what is going on inside our head. The movie also does a great job in showing the importance of one particular emotion - sadness. No one likes depression but, the sadness emotion illustrated incredibly well how important the emotion is to us as humans. The moments of an unfeeling person can change on a dime with memories being remembered in a different way. Those 'joyous' occasions can have a new life when sadness is influenced by another situation giving the occasions a different concept. Let me give an example of what I mean, let’s say you remember a time when you and your significant other went out for a special dinner to celebrate something. That moment was a time you always loved and made you feel good. Now let’s say it's been a year or two later and something terrible had happened like the restaurant burns down or worse, you lose your partner to a tragedy. Remembering the times at the restaurant or your spouse will be bitter sweet, so that memory is transformed from a joyous time to kind of a sad/happy time.
The pace of the movie is nice and even. There are no real long drawn parts of the story. If you haven't seen this movie, it would really be well worth the time to take a look. The underlying autistic emotional understanding is a great illustration, the movie as a whole is fun to watch.
Song of Inspiration [Check it out on Android or iTunes!]:
Song: "From The Inside Out"
Artist: Phillips, Craig and Dean
Here's the Lyrics to the selected song by Phillips, Craig and Dean: