Animated documentary featured at NEYT

BRATTLEBORO — "Life, Animated," the award-winning film about Owen Suskind, a young man with autism whose affinity for Disney characters opens the door to communication with others, screens Friday evening, April 21, at New England Youth Theatre and will be followed by a panel discussion with autism experts about the so-called "autism cliff" - matriculation from the federally mandated care of the public school system.

Vermont students with disabilities may stay in the public school system until the day before their 22nd birthday. The period immediately following matriculation from high school has been dubbed "the autism cliff" because of the steep drop-off in social activities and learning for those on the autistic spectrum. Many parents and caregivers are not prepared for their now-adult child to be entirely in their care, often underfoot at home, with little stimulation or productive activities to keep their child occupied.

Doors for the event open at 6:30 p.m. with a dessert bar, coffee and tea reception. The film, which is based on the best-selling book "Life, Animated," by renowned journalist Ron Suskind, father of Owen, screens at 7 p.m. A panel discussion with professionals who work in the field will follow at 8:30 p.m. The event is a benefit for Theatre Adventure, NEYT's program for actors with disabilities, a year-round program for young people and adults with developmental disabilities.

Experts on the panel include Julie Cunningham, executive director of Families First, a social services agency headquartered in Wilmington; Karen Price, Parent Training and Information Center Project Director and Family Support Director at the Vermont Family Network, which is part of a federal program to support families raising children with disabilities; and others from the educational and non-profit housing field.

"We are excited to offer this entertaining film as an inspiration for families caring for loved ones with disabilities," said Hallie Flower, executive director of NEYT. "Theatre Adventure, which offers both lifelong friendships as well as ongoing life and job skills, is a model of how a community can rally around its most vulnerable members, benefiting all of us and making our world a little brighter, and our social fabric a little stronger."

Tickets are $15 each, although no one will be turned away for lack of funds, according to Flower. The screening of "Life, Animated" is underwritten by Todd Mandell and Richard Wizansky.

Theatre Adventure was founded in 2004 by Jenson and Tucker to help teach youth and adults with developmental challenges life, acting and communication skills as well as promote community through the discipline of theater.

For more information about the region's only inclusive theater arts program, contact the Laura Lawson Tucker at 802-257-7024 or


If you'd like to leave a comment (or a tip or a question) about this story with the editors, please email us. We also welcome letters to the editor for publication; you can do that by filling out our letters form and submitting it to the newsroom.

Powered by Creative Circle Media Solutions