Why Pixar’s Float Means The World to me and Many Families with the Gift of Autism

My family and I watched Pixar’s Float last week.

And oh boy, it hit us hard.

When Disney officially launched its own streaming service, Disney+, on November 12th, one of the many films that debuted was Float by Pixar.

In the six-minute short film (minus credits), a Filipino-American father discovers his son’s ability to fly and struggles with revealing it to the public.

In just six minutes, the short was able to powerfully capture emotions of humanity that guide so much of our daily actions.

Fear of judgement, public perception, and acceptance of ourselves, to name a few.

My family and I are one of the many who are blessed with angels on Earth – children with disabilities. Specifically in our case, my brother has Autism.

The film encapsulated my family’s long and ever-evolving journey with him. From the discovery of his gift, our struggles with public perception, exhaustion in protecting him, and our acceptance in the beauty of his gift and who he is.

In the beginning of the film, the father cheerfully plays with his son outside their house. He picks up a dandelion and blows its petals away, happily discovering his son’s ability to fly and float in air. The happiness in this discovery is quickly downplayed after the neighbors greet the son.

Frightened by his ability, the neighbors quickly walk away.

The rest of the film deals with the father’s struggles in protecting his son, fatigue, and society.

The beginning scene reminded me of my elementary school days. One day, during a general assembly with over two hundred students, my mother, who was a music teacher at the time, was on stage singing one of our hymns. My brother was enrolled in kindergarten at the time. At the early stages of our journey with him, it was extremely difficult for him to express his feelings. He could barely speak in phrases.

In an effort to express his emotions and frustrations, he went on stage and started hitting my mom repeatedly. The whole crowd erupted in laughter. My mom bravely went on and finished the hymn before picking him up and walking off stage.

I like to think that I was among the few who didn’t laugh. Perhaps my guilt in having blended with the crowd in laughter has clouded that memory. I’m really not sure. It sometimes eats me up.

In the end however, it was one of those moments when I learned that it isn’t worth it to go along the crowd. They aren’t always right. They actually are not most of the time.

It’s easy to blend in with the Jones’ to put others down when everyone else is trying to stay afloat.

It’s a lot harder to buck the trend and stand up for what you believe in, for who you are, and what values you stand for.

From then on, though it still took time for me to fully embrace my brother’s gift amongst a sea of folks – I learned to love him unconditionally.

Once I did so, my brother did the same to me as well. He did the same for my family.

We often begin dealing with gifted people by trying to change them, instead of allowing them to change us for the better.

To this day, during days I feel alone and frustrated – I give home a call. The best surprise is when I’m greeted with my brother in joy. He’s just as excited to see me.

“Hi Kuya. I love you.”

That’s all I need to hear.

And this film captures all those emotions and more.

Thank you, Pixar.

“Dedicated with love and understanding to all families and children deemed different.”
– Bobby Rubio (Director of Float)

Photo: Disney/Pixar Twitter


Marjon is the Creator of Third-Culture Thoughts. A political nerd and basketball enthusiast at heart, he writes about everything related to culture and the international experience.