A Journey of Understanding: Pixar’s Loop and the JNCS Boat Logo

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The pursuit of happiness is as much about the journey as it is the destination— oftentimes even more so! You see, many of our journeys end up at an entirely different destination than we intended, and some of our journeys don’t even have an endpoint.

This journey of understanding is at the heart of Pixar’s new SparkShort ‘Loop.’ Incidentally, it is also at the heart of Jay Nolan Community Services’ mission and it is represented in our logo. “The boat,” as it is known among the team, is about meaning, value and the true nature of leadership.  Two people, side-by-side, put this boat into motion.


The Boat— Explained

While we at Jay Nolan are committed to supporting individuals with Autism and other developmental disabilities to live valued and meaningful lives in the community, we do this with the supported individual; not for or to. We sit in the boat, we paddle alongside them, on their journey. But that makes it our journey too. We have the privilege of sharing the journey, the pursuit of happiness, adding our own effort and love to expedition. To truly support another person to fulfill their potential, is the true meaning and purpose of leadership. That requires being shoulder to shoulder in the boat, rowing in the same direction, with the same passion, for the same reason.

When we recognize we are all really in the same boat, interdependent, and on a journey, we begin to understand our place with others in our community. We realize that community means, everyone, and that everyone contributes in their own unique way to keeping the boat moving and afloat. So, when you look at our logo, we want you to see two people committed to each other in the journey – empowered, included, and embraced.

Pixar’s Loop

This January, Pixar released an amazing video short entitled ‘Loop’ as part of their SparkShorts series. Unlike their big-screen works, Pixar’s SparkShorts provide an “opportunity to unlock the potential of individual artists and their inventive filmmaking approaches on a smaller scale.” This includes allowing directors to explore themes that resonate with them and the audience on a more intimate level.

‘Loop’ tells the story of a young girl with Autism and her campmate on a short journey in, of all things, a boat! They set out with different expectations and intentions, and their journey takes them to a deeper understanding of each other and themselves.

 “A non-verbal, autistic girl and a chatty boy are partnered on a canoeing trip. To complete their journey across an urban lake, they must both learn how the other experiences the world.” – Pixar’s summary of ‘Loop’

A Journey of Discovery

What struck us about Pixar’s newest short is the care and attention put in to present a truly genuine representation of autistic individuals, who are often misrepresented (if not completely omitted) in mainstream media. For the production team, the process of making ‘Loop’ involved a journey of discovery through actively learning more about people with autism.

Writer and Director Erica Milsom drew inspiration from her own experiences working with individuals with disabilities as a job coach and vocational educator in the past. Moreover, Milsom and her crew engaged with the autistic community to evoke a uniquely authentic representation of the autistic non-verbal character Renee. Throughout production, the team consulted with partners from the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network (ASAN) who shared their thoughts on the authenticity of the film, especially the way Renee sees the world.

The production team also worked closely with voice actress Madison Bandy, who also happens to be autistic and mostly non-verbal. Recording Madison in her home (where she is most comfortable) gave the team first-hand experience of communicating and connecting with someone who is non-verbal. This experience translated into a powerful element within the short story.

A Journey of Understanding

This journey of discovery is carried over to into a journey of understanding for the audience. As Marcus and Renee form a connection with each other, so does the audience watching the film at home. We at JNCS are excited to see films like ‘Loop’ bridging the gap of understanding between the neurotypical and the neurodiverse individuals that make up our shared community.

Thank you Pixar, for this honest glimpse into Renee’s and Marcus’ unconventional pursuit of happiness!

You can watch Pixar’s ‘Loop’ now streaming on Disney+

Learn more about the individualized services Jay Nolan Community Services, Inc. offers to individuals with ASD and other intellectual and developmental disabilities.

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