Life Lessons from Finding Nemo

Last Saturday night, we watched Finding Nemo for the 999,967th time (but who’s counting?). I don’t really mind. We love watching movies with my seven-year son, Norrin.

My husband and I saw Finding Nemo a few years before Norrin was born. I enjoyed it but didn’t think much of it other than it was another sweet Disney movie. It’s funny the way your overall perspective changes after you become a mom. The first time I watched it with Norrin, it was after he was diagnosed with autism. Norrin didn’t seem to have much interest in Nemo. But I was a sobbing, sloppy mess. I related to Nemo in a whole different way.

It took a few viewings, but eventually, Norrin learned to love Finding Nemo. And I want it to be a movie he can not only enjoy, but one that he can also learn from. Now when we watch it, we use the time to create teachable moments.

These are the lessons I want Norrin to take away from Finding Nemo:

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  • The 8 Life Lessons I Want My Son to Learn from Finding Nemo 1 of 9
    The 8 Life Lessons I Want My Son to Learn from Finding Nemo
    Click through to read!
    Photo Credits: Disney.com
  • Sometimes we have to step outside our comfort zone 2 of 9
    Sometimes we have to step outside our comfort zone
    Marlin tries to live within his comfort zone and attempts to shield Nemo from the harsh realities of the world. But life doesn't always care about what we're comfortable with. Once Nemo disappears, Marlin is pushed beyond his comfort zone in order to be reunited with his son. And Marlin not only gains the respect of his peers and son, but he realizes he's stronger and braver than he ever knew.
    Photo Credits: Disney.com
  • Responsibility 3 of 9
    Responsibility
    The scene with Darla always makes Norrin laugh. But when we watch I explain to him that fish are living things and we need to treat them responsibly and with care.
    Photo Credits: Disney.com
  • Never Give Up 4 of 9
    Never Give Up
    From the moment we meet Gil, we know that he wants to escape from the fish tank. It seems unlikely at first. But with determination and teamwork, Gil and the other fish find their freedom.
    Photo Credits: Disney.com
  • The Power of Friendship 5 of 9
    The Power of Friendship
    Part of Finding Nemo's charm is Dory's forgetfulness and her friendship with Marlin. The scene that always makes me cry is when Marlin is about to leave and Dory begs him to stay. Marlin has become the key to Dory's memory and so much more all Dory needs to do is look at Marlin and she feels like she's "home." That kind of friendship is something really special. I want Norrin to be able to have at least one friend like that.
    Photo Credits: Disney.com
  • Listening to adults is important 6 of 9
    Listening to adults is important
    The reason behind the movie's adventure is because Nemo does not listen when his father asks him not to take another move to touch the boat. Since Nemo does not listen he is taken away. This is the point I always stress when we watch Finding Nemo. Norrin is a runner and doesn't always stop when we ask him. And I need Norrin to understand that there are consequences to be had if he does not listen.
    Photo Credits: Disney.com
  • Teamwork 7 of 9
    Teamwork
    Kids with autism often have a hard time connecting with their peers and tend to want to do things independently. Being independent is a good trait but so is knowing how and when to work as a team.
    Photo Credits: Disney.com
  • Everyone is Different 8 of 9
    Everyone is Different
    One of my favorite scenes is when Nemo first meets his other classmates and Pearl admits she has a short tentacle. I want Norrin to know that everyone is different in some way. And that it's our differences that make us unique.
    Photo Credits: Disney.com
  • Don’t be held back by disability 9 of 9
    Don't be held back by disability
    Nemo was born with a small fin and Gil's was seriously injured yet this does not stop them from fulfilling their dreams. They refuse to let their ‘disability' stop them from achieving their goals. If Norrin learns nothing else from Finding Nemo I want him to know and embrace this. It does not matter what you were born with or what has happened to you in life if you want something, you go for it. And you don't stop until you achieve it.
    Photo Credits: Disney.com

Is your kid a Finding Nemo fan? What lessons do you hope they’ll learn?

Read more of Lisa’s writing at AutismWonderland.

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