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Lifestyle & Human Interest

Mom Says Age 6 Son with Autism Spoke After Meeting Disney Princess: 'One of the First Things We Ever Heard Him Say'

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For 6-year-old Jackson Coley, Disney is truly the happiest place on Earth — and his joy is easy to spot as he sidles up to princesses and iconic characters while showing off his own costumes.

For Jackson’s parents, the theme park is also an incredibly happy place, because they get to see their son in his element and getting to enjoy the simple pleasures of childhood.

That’s especially important to the Coley family because Jackson has autism, has meltdowns, and doesn’t talk very much — things that are just as tough on the little boy as they are for anyone caring for him.

But at Disney, he beams. That’s most true when he spots his favorite princess, who’s come to recognize her little fan.

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“We took him to see Snow White and we were recording and happened to see this complete interaction with her that we had not seen with anybody else,” Jackson’s mom, Amanda Coley, told Inside Edition. “He laid his head on her lap and he kept staring up at her smiling.”

“We make gifts before our trips and his favorite thing is to hide those gifts behind his back and tell them to close their eyes,” Amanda added. “After the gifts they get kisses on the cheeks and he dances around with them.”

The princess made such an impression on him that he continued to light up even when watching video of their interactions later, signing “more” and then eventually saying the word, too.

“That was one of the first things we ever heard him say,” Amanda said.

The family has plenty of documentation of their visits (it helps that mom Amanda is a professional photographer!). The photos and videos are a lovely reminder of happy times.

“I finally put some of my favorite video clips together of Jack Jack and Snow White from last month,” his mother posted in 2018. “I love the light in his eyes and the joy in his smile when he is with her. It makes my heart beyond happy!”

While Snow White certainly ranks high, Jackson has some other favorites as well. In one comment on her post, Amanda commented that he didn’t want to leave Mary Poppins‘ side.

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“We had to keep telling him to say bye because the line was so long behind us,” she wrote. “He wanted to keep flying away on adventures with her.”

Lately, the videos have been circulating online and touching thousands of people. As more news outlets pick up the adorable story, Amanda wanted to put their experience into her own words.

“With the various news outlets putting together cute clips of Jack Jack at Disney, I really wanted to put together a video of my own to share his special moments,” she posted. “Of course, when I do it it ends up almost 12 minutes long.”

“IF you have 12 minutes of free time then I’d really love for you to watch it. It makes me so happy being able to watch these moments all together like this. Hopefully it will brighten your day just a little, as well. His giggles when he gets some of his kisses just kills me.”

“I’ve said this so many times, but I always think it needs repeating – autism does not mean a child is incapable of love and affection. Jack Jack is my living proof of that fact.”

“Thank you to every single cast member who brought a smile to his face on our trip. You mean the world to us.”

While Amanda told Inside Edition that some days are harder than others, and they experience at least their fair share of meltdowns and run-offs, it’s all worth it to see his pure joy as he interacts with Disney characters.

“We get dirty looks from people when he screams or has a meltdown,” she admitted. “But, to take away these videos and these pictures and watching him when he just lights up when he’s with these characters, that’s worth any meltdown we may have to deal with.”

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Amanda holds an MA in Rhetoric and TESOL from Cal Poly Pomona. After teaching composition and logic for several years, she's strayed into writing full-time and especially enjoys animal-related topics.
As of January 2019, Amanda has written over 1,000 stories for The Western Journal but doesn't really know how. Graduating from California State Polytechnic University with a MA in Rhetoric/Composition and TESOL, she wrote her thesis about metacognitive development and the skill transfer between reading and writing in freshman students.
She has a slew of interests that keep her busy, including trying out new recipes, enjoying nature, discussing ridiculous topics, reading, drawing, people watching, developing curriculum, and writing bios. Sometimes she has red hair, sometimes she has brown hair, sometimes she's had teal hair.
With a book on productive communication strategies in the works, Amanda is also writing and illustrating some children's books with her husband, Edward.
Austin, Texas
Languages Spoken
English und ein bißchen Deutsch
Topics of Expertise
Faith, Animals, Cooking