Meet Princess Jack: A Boy Who Connects to the World Through Fairy Tales

jackandprincessesJack is not your typical 11-year-old boy. His closet is jam-packed with dresses and tulle, his room is stacked with hats and wigs, and every surface is covered with makeup tins, face paint and books about goblins, witches, trolls and enchanted forests. Jack has high-functioning autism, and fairy tales and make-believe are a major part of the way he connects to the world. He is the subject of my short documentary, “Princess Jack,” exploring his special interest as he sews his first ballgown tailored for a debut at the royal ball.

Those familiar with autism will understand the concept of a “special interest” — a passionate and consuming fixation that garners a remarkable level of dedication, focus and energy. While many children with autism have difficulty with school, they often have a gifted knowledge and high degree of aptitude for their special interest. In Jack’s case, his detailed memory of stories and fairy tales is astounding, helping maintain his interest in learning despite struggles with reading and writing.

A friend introduced me to Jack just over a year ago, while I was looking for a documentary subject at her sewing studio. I was immediately captivated by Jack’s radiant enthusiasm and devotion to his sewing project. Over the course of a year, I filmed Jack finishing his ballgown, his life at home, and a dazzling fantasy sequence that allowed him to explore his interior fairy tale world. My intention was to tell Jack’s story by letting him introduce his particular tastes, inviting us to become immersed his world, surrounded by his loving family, dance instructors and sewing teacher.

From spending time with Jack’s family, I gained some insight into the journey of parents caring for, in his words, “a boy who sometimes likes girl things.”  He is fortunate to have continual access to activities including sports, games and outdoor recreation, and is fully supported in his passion for dress up, drama and costume design. Princess Jack is the story of a unique and intelligent child telling us exactly who he is, and what makes him happiest.

Lesley Johnson

Lesley Johnson is a Yellowknife- and Toronto-based filmmaker, putting the finishing touches on an MFA in Film Production at York University. Her work focuses on identity and personal transformation with relation to arts, culture and environment. For more information about her short film, Princess Jack, please visit the Facebook page.

Latest posts by Lesley Johnson (see all)

Related Posts

Life With Autism: Richard Mylan & His Son, Ja... Welch actor, Richard Mylan, talks about raising his autistic son, Jaco, in a recent BBC documentary. They've both come a long way since Jaco's diag...
She Has Non-Verbal Autism, But Her New Friend Unde... If you have a non-verbal child, chances are you know how hard it is for them to make friends. That's why we know you'll love this video. The mother...
To All of the Amazing Dads To show our appreciation on Father’s Day, and every day, we present these nine wonderful posts celebrating amazing Autism Dads. ...
5 Ways Being an Autism Dad Has Changed Me Most guys have a vision of what life will be like when we become a Dad.  We think about teaching our sons sports, helping them with homework, talking ...
Looking Back Now Is Easier Than Looking Forward Wa... It was strange, thinking back, how the course of our daughter's life changed in a moment. A moment that took place in a portacabin, painted with cheer...
New York City ‘Detective’ Program a Hi... If you’re planning a trip to New York City, be sure to add a stop at the New York Transit Museum in Brooklyn to your itinerary. The museum, open since...
12 Year Old Creates Disability App Twelve-year-old Alexander Knoll is a shining example for changing the world at any age. The tween has invented the prototype for Ability App™, an appl...
Regions Bank Rolls Out Autism-Friendly Initiatives Regions Bank, which serves 15 mostly Southern states in the U.S., has joined the growing number of businesses offering autism-friendly services and pr...
The Easiest Way to Teach Your Kid to Tie Their Sho... Kirsten Johnson, a mom in Canada, developed this simple shoe-tying method years ago, when she worked with kids on the autism spectrum. She remembered ...
The Unconditional Love He Has for His Autistic Son Bill Davis and his wife were told to put their son, Chris, who has neurological damage, physical disabilities, and a severe form of autism, in a home....
We Are All Different, Not Less Most people, including me, seem to be primed to recognise faces in inanimate objects. I know that I instinctively add a layer of social story to the t...
When Living With Your Autistic Child Becomes ̵... I went with my daughter to see a mental health advisor. Her anxiety is out of control, her sleeping is poor and her eating almost non-existent. It is ...