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tv   2020  ABC  November 25, 2016 10:01pm-11:01pm PST

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abc's jim avila has more on the life of the revolutionary figure. >> reporter: for a half century, fidel castro ruled cuba while the world changed around him. 50 years of isolation finally ended only after he left power. and only with his tacit blessing. castro remained skeptical and suspicious of the u.s. right up to his death. defiantly commenting after president obama's historic visit that cuba will bay of pigs invasion, and does not need america. his defense of his communist revolution never faltering. >> translator: i am a communist. a marxist socialist communist. i am not a afraid to say i'm a communist. >> reporter: he was born in 1926 out of wedlock to a wealthy cuban landowner and his maid. he went to catholic schools then studied law. his passions were baseball, he
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politics. he became an activist for the poor and working class. in 1956 after being expelled by cuba's american-supported dictator have a lens i don't bautista, castro returned secretly with brother raul, che guevara, and others. they hid out in the mountains and waged a guerilla war. >> the road to havana paved with glory for rebel chieftain fidel castro. >> reporter: castro finally expelled bautista and took fidel promised democracy but squashed all dissent with jail or expulsions, even executions. he nationalized all u.s. businesses. in 1961, president john f. kennedy, just elected, approved a cia-trained invasion force of 1,300 cuban exiles who went ashore at the bay of pigs. castro demolished them. a huge propaganda victory.
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discovered castro had let the soviets put nuclear missiles in cuba. >> it shall be the policy of this nation to regard any nuclear missile launched from cuba against any nation in the western hemisphere as an attack by the soviet union on the united states. >> translator: yes, we were very close to the nuclear war. extremely close. >> reporter: ultimately the soviets removed the missiles. fidel continued to promote leftist movements in latin america where he remained even castro's critics praised his advances in health care and in education. but the inefficiency of cuba's soviet-style economy produced dissent. in 1980, more than 125,000 cubans, some expelled, many allowed to just leave, braved rough seas and dehydration to come to the united states in the mariel boat lift. in the early 1990s, the fall of
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dollars in soviet aid and trade, leading to widespread shortages and rationing. >> translator: with the demise of the soviet union, we have suffered the equivalent to a treason. we have felt betrayed. >> reporter: castro fought back by courting tourism and business. in 2006, just before intestinal surgery, he gave up power temporarily to his younger brother raul. he never took the reins again. made it official in 2008. but he was not totally gone. started writing newspaper columns, receiving visitors, including hugo chavez of ddenly began displaying his indomitable drive again in public, giving tv interviews, laying flowers at the tomb of the fallen, exhorting the communist youth, addressing the cuban parliament. now the world will see how a new era of cuban-american diplomacy changes his island home.
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americans gradually returning, it may no longer be fidel castro's cuba. >> jim avila joins us on the phone. jim has been to cuba many, many times. this comes just after those historic relations between cuba and the united states. how do you think this might now effect change in cuba? >> i think that it will continue on the same course. at this point i think the changes in the united states, actually, might have more effect on what's going on than the change with fidel castro. because while fidel castro was considered, even to this day, the george washington of his country among those who remain in cuba, he was also a very divisive figure. and he has recently sort of faded into the woodwork, raul castro has taken over, and he really is, raul castro really has been running the day-to-day government. fidel has not.
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writing, trying to be the conscience of cuba more than the ruler of cuba. but he remains, to his death, a very important figure. while he was -- because of his nationalism, because of what he meant to the people, he meant that cuba would not be dominated by the united states even though the united states is so big and so close. >> so jim, looking at this, we're looking at the historic footage of fidel castro. you can't help but think about his legacy after all these years. what do you think will be the word of historians when they look back at the life of fidel castro? >> well, i think he'll be the most prominent figure in cuba. perhaps only overshadowed a little bit by jose marti, the author who in the 1900s wrote
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but fidel castro changed the course of cuba. he changed the way cuba was. in 1959, 1958, cuba was pretty much a satellite of the united states. run by the united states. run by the united states mafia. all those casinos, all that lively dance footage we see of cuba, that was all run by the mafia. the united states mafia. and castro came in and he and not only did he do that, he's revered in his country, in cuba, for changing the class system. there was a huge class system in cuba up until then. and the peasant class didn't know how to read or write. most of the people in cuba didn't know how to read and write in 1960. and in fact, they didn't have medical care of any kind. and they didn't have electricity outside of havana. so castro came into power, he
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they have a very good education system. they have a very good medical system. and they have electricity all over the island. do they have all the freedoms that the united states has? they do not and the people there want those freedoms. and that's why many of them will be happy to see castro gone right now. but it will not change his place in history. >> i mentioned a lot of people will be celebrating that news without question. we just saw a few moments ago video of raul castro making that moments ago that fidel castro, the long-time leader of cuba, has died at the age of 90. our jonathan karl is also on the phone with us. jonathan, cuba and castro have been such a fixture in foreign policy for the united states. this is certainly going to relevance nate in washington. resonate in washington. >> absolutely. fidel castro is the nemesis of so many presidents.
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each of them since kennedy saw castro as an enemy of the united states, as an abuser of human rights. he was somebody who loomed large because he was an enemy just 90 miles from the shores of the united states. somebody who was allied with the soviet union during the cold war. outlasted the cold war. somebody who looms and has loomed large chunk of american history going back to 1959. >> and jonathan, with president obama deciding to try to warm relations with cuba, with the castro family, after all these years, how much hope is there in washington that raul castro might make some real changes that the united states would welcome? >> well, there's -- there's not much hope from u.s. policymakers there would be significant
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but there certainly has been a major change in u.s. policy that was initiated by president obama. something -- he went a place, again, no american president since kennedy really thought of going. of re-establishing relations, reopening an embassy in cuba. it's the stated goal of president obama to lift the trade but you know, raul castro has effectively been leading cuba for a decade now. and, you know, there certainly have been changes on the isle. there's been a more opening up of the economic system. the willingness on the behalf of castro to engage -- raul castro to engage with the united states.
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has been expected and predicted and urged by so many u.s. political figures, the belief is that would have to come not just after fidel castro but after raul castro as well. >> it's amazing how much has changed in that country in such a relatively short amount of time. jim, as we mentioned, you have spent a lot of time in cuba. raul as we mentioned has been in charge for several years now. what do you think may happen next? how do you think this might impact raul's rule? >> well, i think that -- first of all, i don't think raul castro will make the dramatic changes beyond what's going on now. the opening of tourism, some economic issues that are opening more. but not even huge economic advances under raul castro. i think what's been going on is that cuba is waiting, the cuban island itself is waiting for raul castro as well to pass
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away, then the next generation of leadership is really the one where they expect some kind of changes. now, there have been people in miami and in the united states who have worried all along or who have been cheering on fidel's death because they believe the cubans will revolt as soon as they see an opening and will -- there will be another revolution against raul because fidel's no longer there. i don't think that's going to happen. i don't think there's any chance of i think that the cuban government and the cuban military still has a stronghold on that island. and would be very difficult. there are no weapons in that island besides those owned by the military. there's no way for -- it would be very difficult for there to be a revolution there now. it's going to be years before there's any significant change. fidel castro remained the symbol
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states for many of the people there. the symbol of independence. i've seen him -- i've been to cuba about 35 times. i met him personally two or three times while he was still in office. he was a hero then to the people in the streets who were allowed to walk around with him and see him. he had a status above all others in that country. not popular in this country among cuba, very popular. >> for those of us just joining us, again, abc news has learned long-time cuban leader fidel castro has died at the age of 90. his death was announced a short time ago on cuban state tv by his brother raul. fidel castro ruled cuba for close to 50 years, seizing power in the cuban revolution of 1959. before, as we mentioned, handing power over to his brother, raul in 2008.
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new era of cuban-american diplomacy change that is island with fidel castro now gone and the americans gradually returning as we've mentioned. it may no longer be fidel castro's cuba, as we've talked about. and so john, as we look at this and as news develops over the coming hours and overnight into tomorrow, what do you expect the reection reaction to be, in cuba and also in the united states? >> i think the m thing to watch will be president obama, who made such a bold and controversial move in reopening official diplomatic ties with cuba. even before obama made that step, made that move, there was the hand shake. the handshake not with fidel. never personally one on one met fidel castro.
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castro. it came at nelson mandela's memorial in south africa. and it was a simple gesture, but it was seen by many in the u.s. political world as incredibly controversial. because castro, even though the cold war had long been gone, still remained this incredibly powerful symbol. so it will be interesting to see what the white house does. the president never had the opportunity and probably would have turned down the opportunity to actually personally meet with fidel. but he did work with his brother. and he did re-establish ties. and he did become the first american president to step foot on cuban soil in 88 years. so i assume we'll see some kind of a tip of the hat to fidel
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even at this late point he remains incredibly -- remained an incredibly controversial figure in u.s. political world. >> incredibly controversial and incredibly polarizing. without question a chapter has ended in the cuban/united states relations. jonathan karl, jim avila, thank you so much for your time. long-time cuban leader fidel castro has died at the age of 90. stay tuned to these abc news stations for more on this developing story. we'll have "nightline" for those on the west coast of the united states and much more on "good morning america." you can find the latest at abcnews.com. i'm jonathan betts at abc news world headquarters in new york. have a good night. . i throw over the bedspread. i'm like, "we're speaking in disney dialogue." i hug owen. i run down. i hug cornelia. >> reporter: that bedside
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experiment, what ron calls the basement sessions. every night, the family gathers to watch and reenact disney scenes like in "the jungle book." ? wherever a i wander, wherever i roam ? >> cornelia and i basically get phds in disney. >> we were jumping into his language and his world, going in to where he was rather than trying to bring him out to where we were. ron, now a pulitzer prize-winning "wal what he calls a double life. interviewing presidents by day, imitating cartoon characters by night. they soon discover owen has memorized dozens of disney movies. and not only knows the lines, he's using the films to teach himself about life. >> he started to use the movies as a kind of mirror to understand his life. "hercules" for not giving up.
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>> "jungle book" for making friends. "pinocchio" for what it feels like to be a real boy. >> you are a real boy! >> reporter: owen is at a school for children with learning disabilities. his language skills are improving. >> what is it, "o"? >> reporter: and soon, his art skills, too. by age 11, 5 years after uttering that first sentence at walt's party, owen's spending hours immersed in animation in a new way -- drawing. when ron stumbles upon his sketchpad, he begins to understand owen's view of himself. >> as you flip through the pages, i see there's 100 sidekicks. no heroes. the last two pages, he writes two things. "i am the protector of the sidekicks." and on the last page, he writes, "no sidekick gets left behind." >> reporter: and for every
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for owen, it's his brother walt. student body president, on the football team, and popular. >> like any big brother, you want to be his protector, you want to be his role model. >> reporter: walt's rites of passage become a roadmap for owen. when walt celebrates his bar mitzvah, owen takes notice. >> and as the age approached, owen said, "when is my bar mitzvah?" i never thought, "okay, walter's having a bar mitzvah. owen will have a bar mitzvah." why would i put him through all of this? we had enough trouble just >> reporter: it would be a life-changing event. the years of therapy, disney movies and otherwise, have paid off. owen wrote the sermon himself. >> sometimes, people are scared of people who are not like them. they can be mean and ignore them sometimes. we should never take advantage of another person's weakness. >> i would say that owen's bar mitzvah day was the proudest day
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>> god gave me strength, courage and a big heart. >> he was bursting. just blew everybody away. >> look at all the faces beaming with you. >> let's hear it for the star of the show! [ cheers and applause ] >> reporter: the message of acceptance that owen has shared with his temple, he wants to share with the world. >> he said to us, "i really want me with autism are, that we're just like them." he of course said, you know, "i'm a diamond in the rough, an unpolished gem," from "aladdin." >> reporter: by now, ron has written five bestselling books about education, politics, the economy, but now he decides to share the story of owen in a book he calls "life animated." then, academy award-winning filmmaker roger ross williams
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>> i really wanted to tell the story of the outsiders. and i really wanted to tell the story of people like owen who people look past. >> reporter: next, meet grown-up owen today. >> my name is owen suskind. >> reporter: living it up with his disney heroes. and finding love. stay with us. come on artoo! ? artoo! welcome to the rebellion. ? this is for you. duracell and children's miracle network hospitals are powering imaginations everywhere.
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owen was about to go through this really transformative year of his life. he was about to graduate from school, he had fallen in love, and he was about to become independent. so i was going to follow owen and hit these moments in his life that are universal. >> reporter: universal moment number one. boy meets girl. owen finds love at his school for special needs, surprising his family. >> seeing owen in what he calls a love relationship was the
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life. >> these are for you. >> oh, thank you, owen. >> they are very attentive to each other for a good long time in their relationship. and it's a time of joy. >> i also have this necklace for you, too. >> thanks emily. >> it's beautiful. it i mean, you know -- you know, owen is getting advice from walter, a lot of advice from walter at this point. >> even basic things like when you're having this conversation, make sure to ask her, like, what she's interested in, or, you know, this might be a good present, or here's a good date idea. >> it's pretty serious. >> it is pretty serious. >> you've had a class on this at school, right? have you thought about those things?
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how does that make you feel? >> it makes me feel a little nervous and a little excited. emily is wonderful. and speaks soft and gentle. >> reporter: seems owen's future all mapped out. >> when i move into my apartment emily will move into the apartment above me and we'll be neighbors in love. >> reporter: the man capturing these moments -- director roger ross williams -- wants his film to be honest portr but behind the scenes he's forced to be honest with himself. >> i didn't know anything about autism. to be honest, i was uncomfortable in the beginning around owen. i didn't know how to behave. i was like everyone else in the world. >> reporter: but over time, some things come into focus for the filmmaker. >> that was the first stereotype that sort of got broken down for me because i was like, huh. people with autism actually fall
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>> reporter: owen met his first love at "disney club." a group he created for classmates who share a love of disney, to discuss their feelings. >> what was mufasa teaching simba? >> reporter: the club even has an occasional star drop by like jonathan freeman, the voice of jafar in disney's aladdin. >> your father's charged me with keeping peace in agrabah. the boy was a criminal. take center stage to run a few lines together. but the two are quickly upstaged by another very familiar voice. >> the idea has merit. >> yes, merit. >> gilbert gottfried! >> reporter: the surprise guest gilbert gottfried brings the house down. >> i just don't believe it.
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out of that stupid lamp. [ laughter ] >> reporter: it is graduation day on the cape and owen suskind has a cheering section worthy of the red sox. >> every single member of our family came to that graduation. it was an extraordinary day. it really was. >> and there he was with this mortar board on. and holding up his arms saying, "i made it." i'm so proud of you. you're the greatest. >> i am the greatest. >> you are the greatest. and that was i think maybe the most beautiful part of that day, the pride he felt. look at me.
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>> here we, owen. >> yes, here we are. >> reporter: months later, another "first," when owen moves into his own apartment. taking up residence here in a supported community but living on his own in a condo. and just as he imagined, his dream girl is living right upstairs. >> in a million years i would never have imagined that owen would be where he is today. never. >> my new home. good >> and all of a sudden it's the moment of letting go. and then we say, "see you. i love you. have a good night. call us tomorrow." >> and we left. and cornelia and i sat in the car and said, "oh, wow." that moment of release. and exhilaration and terror at -- all at the same time. >> reporter: afterwards, the documentary cameras keep
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like most nights, owen picks a movie to watch. on the first night of his independence, he chooses "bambi." >> hunters are in the forest chasing bambi and his mother. and his mother gets shot. >> i didn't see that until i was sitting in an audience at sundance at the premiere. so there i am sitting with 800 people around me, and i'm seeing the -- owen's first night on his own, and the movie that he chose, and i -- it just blew my mind. >> i think he chose bambi because he was losing his mother. that really tore my heart out. >> reporter: 28-year old walt also surprises his mother,
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caretaker of his younger brother. >> it will be just be me and i'll be ready. i've been getting ready my whole life. but it can be overwhelming to think about. it can keep you up at night. >> those were feelings that walter never shared with us, never. it's very hard for us to hear, but it's true. >> it's a little different i feel like, for me as a brother, because in some ways, i feel like a brother. and in some ways i feel like his parent. >> reporter: what role will the big brother play next when the phone rings and the news is not good? >> emily broke up with owen. >> reporter: when we return.
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"20/20" continues, with
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>> reporter: owen's brother walter is being filmed for the documentary when the phone rings. >> i just got a call. emily broke with owen. there was a meeting with all the case workers today, so basically, the case workers told owen that it was over with emily in the room. it sounds bad. >> having him find someone to have a relationship with was the most joyous thing and having him lose that was the hardest thing. >> reporter: the cause for the breakup? same as so many others. >> emily gave these reasons, five points about owen being too close and needing space and everything else. >> hi, emily. emily?
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at least i waved to her. [ phone ringing ] >> hi, honey! >> mom? >> yes, sweetie? >> why is life so full of unfair pain and tragedy? >> owen, it's just the way life is. that's the way life has always been and will always be. and relaxing times, but we also have sad times and painful times. >> but it's not fair. >> i know, honey. so much things that happen in life aren't fair, so many things. >> reporter: the young man who ran the disney club is now a member of a much bigger club. the broken heart society. and it hurts.
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of each other too, mind you, which was complicated. emily was living above owen. >> he could hear her walking back and forth and he would just be looking at the ceiling. and every single time someone would come down the hall and open the front door, he'd run to the door, and open it, and go, "emily!" it was painful to see him in so much pain. as a filmmaker, i was -- i didn't know what to do. i didn't whether to keep going or whether to stop filming. many times i was -- i was in tears with him because he would watch the saddest scenes he could summon up from disney films. and he would watch them over and over again, and that's how he processed it, that's how he dealt with his pain. >> what's the saying? boy loves girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl back in the end?
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>> but i -- i -- i -- i -- this is driving me crazy. >> yeah. >> why did this have to happen to make my life sad forever? >> reporter: in the film, we watch owen try to make sense of the breakup by putting pencil to paper. >> i created fuzzbutch, who is a villain in the land of lost sidekicks. fuzzbutch's evil powers is to make the world look like a weird place to them and make them look sad. >> reporter: once again, illustrations and animations help owen to navigate his way thru a rough reality. and today, the documentary team is following him as he's about to meet some of the legends whose famous characters opened up his world. eric goldberg, lead animator for "genie" in "aladdin," guides the way. down this hallowed hall are some
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>> owen knows everything they've ever done, every character they worked on. >> reporter: though owen sees himself as a sidekick, he gets a hero's welcome from the team. >> the disney animators are just giddy. they're like, "owen knows our work better than we do." >> he's an artist, as good as many. he can sit down and draw most of the characters better than i can. >> and that's what they love about him. like, look what he's doing there. that's a little more vivid. and so that's -- that's owen's life. and we hope, and he hopes, that someday that'll be a part of what he does. >> reporter: but until that day comes, owen suskind is on the clock just like the rest of us. [ alarm clock rings ] >> just going to shower and brush my teeth, okay? my lunch is all set and ready to go.
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part-time jobs, one at a movie theater and another at a toys r us. and once a week, he's a deejay at a community college radio station. >> my name is dj animator, and you're listening to the disney show. >> reporter: dj animator, playing music in the key of dreams. >> now here's "soon you'll come home to my heart" from "all dogs go to heaven" on 90.7. >> this here is my kitchen. >> reporter: with some supervision, he makes his own meals. calories he can then burn off at the local "y." >> it's cold. >> reporter: with a challenging routine of laps. >> i'm just going to take a breath, okay? >> reporter: thereowen has a comforting group of friends reassuring owen about something that's been bothering him since his break up, his prospects for finding a new love. >> he's cape cod's most eligible bachelor. >> no matter what, there will be
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>> there will definitely be someone out there for you. there's no question. >> she can come visit me. that i don't see every day, just some days and some weekends. i'm being filmed. so they will know i'm available. >> reporter: next, hitting the red carpet. >> owen is running down the aisle high-fiving people. as he takes the stage, people are in tears, they're screaming out his name. >> reporter: the celebrity of owen, when we return. full blownn to the basement, you're gonna be out of work without that money from... aflac! you might miss your rent. aww i just moved out. bummer man. hey i used to have my own place. yeah? no, no i live with my mom, but it's cool.
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>> reporter: it's the last place the suskinds expected to find themselves -- the red carpet. >> please welcome to the stage, owen suskind. [ cheers and applause ] >> reporter: but that's where owen and his family are spending much of their time. their new film "life animated"
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playing at festivals around the country and the world. the magic carpet of animated movies and the documentary are carrying owen farther into the world than his family ever dreamed. >> the way people see those with autism is that they don't want to be around other people. that's wrong. >> the owen effect is extraordinary. people are in tears, they're he relishes his place in the spotlight. >> reporter: sometimes, he's front and center with notable friends from the animated world. his old pal, gilbert gottfried. >> you marry the princess and
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>> i become sultan? the idea has merit. >> he actually knows it better than i do. >> reporter: and paige o'hara, the voice of belle from "beauty and the beast," here at the virginia film festival. >> i just want to give you a hug. >> it's a pleasure to meet you. >> you are so wonderful. >> thanks. >> reporter: oscar winning composer of "little mermaid" and menken, happy to simply accompany his friend on the keyboard. ? under the sea ? [ cheers and applause ] >> reporter: what do you want people to learn about you, owen, and your life, by watching the film? what do you hope other people will learn? >> will understand me. >> reporter: understand what? >> understand my way in the world. >> how many people here like
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>> i love disney! >> reporter: at uva, owen and his dad meet with students studying autism, and a few nonverbal people with autism from the community. >> it's great to meet you. what's your name? >> i'm ron. >> reporter: using a letter board, a student joins owen's quest to not be forgotten. >> i'm inspired to know new friends and advocates. >> i'm glad to be your new friend, juan. >> we feel that no autistic should be left behind. >> that's something that everybody wants. and owen says that as so many of the spectrum kids i talk to and adults say it. i want to be out there. i want a life so much like the life you're living or the one you want. so that was always our challenge. >> reporter: it's become their mission, bringing awareness to people who are all too often overlooked. >> cornelia and i would say to each other, who decides what the meaningful life is?
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at our son and say, that's not a meaningful life. who decides that? who decides the meaningful life is? he's asked that now. he says, "i do. and this life i live is meaningful. let me show you how." >> reporter: ron is now working to help other families. >> some of the parents are going, "how do i do what you did?" you know, i don't have a pulitzer prize, my wife works out of the home, and i can't sp watching disney. >> reporter: while there is no cure for autism, ron says their experience with owen suggests there may be a way to reach people with autism through their obsessions or affinities. >> then we saw there are many affinities. the kids who are harry potter kids and star wars kids, dinosaur kids. >> reporter: dinosaur kids. >> i have kids -- >> reporter: i know a boy who's obsessed with dinosaurs. >> they're everywhere. >> reporter: ron has created technology to explore ways that those affinities can open the door to communication for other children silenced by autism
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>> do you like to watch a funny video? >> yes, i do. >> do you get afraid of being alone? >> sometimes. >> why? >> because i have low self esteem and autism. >> reporter: autism researcher kirstin birtwell with harvard medical school and massachusetts general hospital affinities can be therapy. >> if it works for families and families have an experience with it that is positive, who are we as professionals to really not want to look into that and not want to explore it. >> can you look at the "ratatouille" teaser trailer? >> there is no such thing as perfection. and autism is a way of being. it's not something to be fixed. it's just the idea of recognizing the joy in your child, and following that joy, and respecting your child for who they are, and for what their
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>> reporter: still ahead, a milestone for the suskind family, and a surprise.
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build their businesses and careers. my name is yasmin belo-osagie and i'm a co-founder at she leads africa. i definitely could not do my job without technology. this windows 10 device, the touchscreen allows you to kind of pinpoint what you're talking about. which makes communication much easier and faster than the old mac that i used to use. you can configure it in so many different ways, it just, i don't know, it feels really cool. i feel like i'm in the future. is depression more than sadness? ? ? ? trintellix (vortioxetine) is a prescription medicine for depression. trintellix may start to untangle or help improve the multiple symptoms of depression. for me, trintellix made a difference. tell your healthcare professional right away if your depression worsens, or you have unusual changes in mood, behavior or thoughts of suicide.
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trintellix has not been studied in children. do not take with maois. tell your healthcare professional about your medications, including migraine, psychiatric and depression medications to avoid a potentially life-threatening condition. increased risk of bleeding or bruising may occur especially if taken with nsaid pain relievers, aspirin, or blood thinners. manic episodes or vision problems may occur in some people. may cause low sodium levels. the most common side effects are nausea, constipation and vomiting. trintellix did not have significant impact on weight. ask your healthcare professional if trintellix could make a difference for you. olive garden fills your holidays with new flavorfilled pairings freshly filled pastas
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irresistible chicken, shrimp or steak plus all the salad and breadsticks you want your favorite things come together at the holidays, at olive garden. ? faded glory flannel shirts, classic and comfortable fit. $8 each. save money. live better. walmart ? we're about to surprise dad for his birthday. >> reporter: this week, cornelia and the boys threw a surprise party for the special man in their lives. >> surprise! happy birthday, dad! >> reporter: there's cake and candles. ? happy birthday dear dad ?
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>> we'll do it together, ready? 1, 2, 3. >> reporter: but also a flickering concern. >> you're both still young. >> we are so young. >> next year you're still young? >> so young. >> reporter: a reminder that with each passing year, owen's parents are growing older. >> do you want to do it yourself, didn't walter teach you how to do this? >> can you help me? >> reporter: a reality for which they constantly prepare him. >> okay. i'm not always going to be here to do your tie, you know. >> i know. >> we have talked to him about our life and how life unfolds. and we may not always be here for him. and we are going to help him prepare for a time when we're not. >> reporter: for owen, disney helps him decipher this lesson too. a favorite scene from "the lion king" offers comfort. >> a dad? >> simba says, "we'll always be friends, right, dad?"
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"simba, let me tell you what my father once told me. look at the stars. the great kings of the past look down upon us from those stars. so whenever you're alone just remember that those kings will always be there to guide you. and so will i." >> there will be a time up ahead when he will not only look at the stars, he will hear in his head the voices of all of the characters he's embraced. that has helped him live, they've helped him make his way in the world. and he will remember us. precisely, our voices, o faces, our words and our love.
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>> see, dad? things are really, all is right with the world, and good things will come my way. >> all is right with the world. >> incredible life lessons from the movies. >> and one extraordinary family story. thanks for watching "20/20" tonight. i'm david muir. >> and i'm elizabeth vargas. from all of us here at "20/20" and abc news, have a great night. with breaking news -- former cuban leader fidel castro has died. the announcement -- coming in from his brother -- raul --on cuban state media. 13-action news reporter --
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breaking news center. mahsa. castro was extremely controversial ... a leader ... just 90 miles off of florida ... he defied the u.s. for about 50 years. right now ... cubans in miami... hitting the streets celebrating! this is video we found online on twitter. you can see --- ad lib.... during castro's tenure... so many cubans seeking exile here... he first came into power in 1959...after leading a communi made cuba... first communist country ...in western hemisphere. take a look at these tweets coming in. this is from elected leaders in florida. read the tweets.... we will continue following any developments through the night.

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