The title character, in case you don’t recall, suffers from what flashback-tiny Dory adorably describes as “short-term remembery loss.” This obviously provides challenges for Dory, as she can’t remember names or faces, how to get home or what dangers lurk in the ocean. According to Darwin, she should be dead. According to her parents, Darwin can take a flying leap. They start figuring out ways that will allow Dory to function in the larger world, such as making up rhymes (“When we see the undertow/we say, ‘Don’t go!’ ”). One thing they don’t do is try to fix her. She doesn’t need to be fixed; this is how Dory is.
Parents raising children with special needs often get crap — sneers in the line at Target when a kid with SPD can’t handle the lights and the colors and the beep-beep-beeps, critiques from the grandma who insists that only parents who don’t know how to discipline their kids resort to medicine. Those people should be strapped to a chair “Clockwork Orange”-style and forced to watch “Finding Dory,” because it shows, clearer than anything I’ve ever seen, how important adaptive learning strategies are.
The systems and support that Dory’s parents provide are specific to Dory — not only are they unnecessary for most fish, they might not work for another fish with remembery loss. But the provisions don’t coddle her and they don’t hold her back; they are built for her so that she can succeed in a world that is most definitely not built for her. That’s important for Dory, of course, but they also benefit the world in which she lives, because now others get to know her. Dory is good and kind and funny, and if her parents hadn’t figured out a way to build her a path into the larger ocean, the ocean would be the worse for it.
Plenty of parents of kids with special needs won’t get to see “Finding Dory” in the theater; some kids can’t take the stimulation, and finding a sitter who understands how to make mac and cheese the right way, no, the RIGHT WAY, THE RIGHT WAY can be tough. To them I say: It’s OK. “Finding Dory” will come out for home viewing, and it’ll make you realize just how on the right path you are. Until then, just keep swimming.
More Reelists from Kristen Page-Kirby