Adventures in The Deep End: Finding Dory

As a mom of a child with autism, I have a ready list of worries relating to him being out in the world. I recently took my eldest child to see an advance screening of Pixar’s latest release, “Finding Dory” which we both enjoyed immensely. I chose not to bring my son with autism, because an advance screening means a big crowd, long line-ups and sometimes a late start. It is potentially too overwhelming for him, so it felt safer to keep him home.

He won’t miss out – Cineplex in partnership with Autism Speaks Canada is offering a sensory friendly screening of Finding Dory on July 2nd, so my partner will take my son to see Finding Dory then, when my son can move in his seat, make noise and we can ‘relax’ that we are in an audience of people who “get it”.

But this is just one of the ways that having a child with autism impacts our family. I worry about him every time we leave the house and go out into the community, and even in the house I worry – we have baby gates and high bolts to help keep him from wandering.

I worry about how he’ll do at school, if he’ll be able to attend integrated ‘typical’ classrooms or if he’ll be separated. I worry about potential bullies and people who might harm him due to his sweet nature and trust of other people.

In “Finding Dory”, the main premise is that Dory remembers she has a family and that she misses them, so she sets out to find them. Through flashbacks we learn about her parents Jenny (Diane Keaton) and Charlie (Eugene Levy) and how they worried about Dory.  charliejennyDory suffers from Short Term Memory Loss and if she leaves home without her parents, her parents are afraid (and rightfully so) she won’t be able to make it home on her own. They practice playing ‘hide and seek’, devise a way of leaving shell paths to help Dory find her way and come up with songs and rhymes to try to help Dory retain important information so that she can be safe when away from them.  Dory wants to learn and tries to learn, but her disability prevents her from being successful. Her parents spend every day practicing these drills over and over again, not unlike how we work with our son at his IBI therapy. I can completely relate to their worry about Dory, how hard they work to try to help her and how proud they are when she accomplishes her goals.

Unfortunately, Dory’s parents fear is justified. Dory does get separated from her family, and she does encounter many dangers in the ocean, but luckily escapes harm. She meets Marlin and later Nemo, who end up taking her in to be a part of their community and family. They offer her support and patience and do what they can to keep her safe and help her be included in their community.  They accept that she can’t help but wake them up in the night and that she makes unsafe decisions, and they love her anyway.

dory marlin nemo

I hope my child with the support received in his childhood is able to be an independent adult who can find companionship and form a family of his own. I hope that he can be gainfully employed and help make the world a better place with his beautiful spirit. I worry about him and hope he makes it safely through the world into the future I dream of for him. I am hopeful that there will be community living options for him should he need them, such as those offered at the organization I work for*, and I will continue to advocate for a more inclusive world for him, not unlike the reef Dory lives in with Nemo and Marlin (her chosen family).

In her community, Dory finds acceptance, inclusion and a feeling of independence while being supported. These are the things that help me worry less while advocating strongly so this future can be a reality for children like mine.

❤ Jennpup ❤

-*Jennifer works in KW Habilitation’s Residential Services since 2013. Her son was diagnosed at age 2 1/2 with autism and benefited from KW Habilitation’s ELCCFR Special Needs Access Point (SNAP) program which brought additional supports in to his daycare, to address his early social and communication needs, prior to and following diagnosis.






It was right in front of my eyes and I missed it! #FamilyEyeHealth

Did you see it?

Did you see it? When my daughter was 2, I shared some pictures of her spinning around with family – she looked so joyous!  Our aunt replied, noticing our DD’s eyes were not aligned and suggested I see an eye doctor.  I could see it in the pictures, but thought it was from the spinning.  I booked her for an eye exam the following week just to be safe and the Optometrist confirmed it, my daughter had a ‘lazy eye’ (amblyopia) due to a slight misalignment.

Lazy eye (amblyopia) is decreased vision that results from abnormal visual development in infancy and early childhood. Although lazy eye usually affects only one eye, it can affect both eyes. Lazy eye is the leading cause of decreased vision among children. – The Mayo Clinic

In most pictures, and most of the time, her eyes appeared to be fine. It was so slight, I couldn’t see it myself.  I thought it would be more obvious if there was a problem. I thought my child had to be able to read letters on a chart to get a thorough eye exam. I didn’t know that optometrists can screen and assess eyes for infants.

At the time, our treatment options were fairly limited. The optometrist advised that we had caught the eye turn too late to correct itI was shocked! She was only 2, surely, there was time to fix it!  But I learned that I should have brought her in at 6 months.

This was almost 10 years ago, there have been some advances since that time. We followed a routine of patching and doing exercises to help my daughter strengthen her weak eye. Ultimately, we were able to get her vision back and each eye is now 20/20.  Surgery was offered for cosmetic purposes only, but with her eye turn being so slight, I was unwilling to opt for the surgery.

She currently uses one eye or the other, never both at the same time. The optometrists at UW Optometry check up on her every year and seem impressed with her ability to switch eyes.  She does not have ‘3D’ vision, but her brain compensates for this and although some skills may take her longer (hitting a baseball or riding her bike) she will lead a normal life and be able to drive if she chooses.

When my son was 6 months, I took him to our local Ontario Early Years Centre for a vision screening. No eye turn, healthy eyes. Please check with your local Early Years Centre or equivalent to see if they offer this program:

The University of Waterloo, School of Optometry offers vision screening for children 6 months to 6 years of age. The vision screening examination will include an assessment on your child’s visual acuity, eye coordination and depth perception. Question’s you many have regarding you or your child’s vision can be answered. – Our Place Early Years Centre

In Ontario, OHIP covers annual eye exams for children and young adults under the age of 20 (and seniors over 65).  We take both of our children annually for their free exam.

People 65 years and older and those younger than 20, are covered by OHIP for a routine eye examination provided by either an optometrist or physician once every 12 months plus any follow-up assessments that may be required.Ontario Ministry of Health

October is Children’s Vision Month. Please join @YMCBuzz and Doctors of Optometry Canada to learn more about keeping your children’s eyes healthy at the #FamilyEyeHealth Twitter Party on October 18th at 9pm ET.  There will be lots of good information as well as awesome prizes!

During the party, five lucky winners will win the following:

  • A HP Pavilion 360 laptop and a $200 gift voucher to be used for goods/services from a local doctor of optometry.

I hope to see you there! 🙂



❤ Jennpup ❤

This post was not sponsored, but it is an issue I care very much about! ❤