Iron Man, aka Robert Downey, Jr. guest-hosted NBC’s The Ellen Show on Tuesday. Though Downey, Jr. was there to talk about his new role in Universal Studio’s Doolittle, it was Iron Man who stole the show when meeting young Vincent Arambula, a 10-year-old boy with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
As Vincent’s story unfolded, viewers learned the child lost the ability to speak when he was one. Then, when Vincent hit four, “We had a lot of red flags that cropped up,” his mother, Nicole Arambula, said, pointing to behavior changes.
“His imagination play,” Vincent’s father, Andy Arambula, gave as an example. “He would line stuff up and spin things for countless hours.”
A visit to the doctor confirmed the parents’ suspicion — Vincent has Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
“Everybody here can relate to that sense of wanting to be able to communicate, but not being able to,” Downey, Jr. said to Vincent. “What did that feel like?”
“It was painful” Vincent responded.
The Iron Man Mask’s Impact
Then, when he turned six, Vincent got an Iron Man helmet. “It helped me talk and imagination play.”
“It grounded him, Andy Arambula explained of the Marvel character’s identity on Vincent. “It allowed him to feel confident.”
The mask’s impact per Vincent’s father, “Within 24 hours, Robert, we saw a different child.”
Downey, Jr. could relate to Vincent’s experience with the Iron Man mask. “It gave us a voice,” he said to the boy.
“It helped me talk, it helped me hide my identity,” Vincent said. The 10-year-old also dresses up as Iron Man’s other identity, Tony Stark. He so loves the character, Vincent named his dog Mr. Stark.
Downey, Jr. said the thing he’ll miss most about playing Iron Man/Tony Stark is hearing about the impact the character has had on fans, particularly kids.
Before saying goodbye to Vincent, Downey, Jr. alerted the family that Shutterfly was giving them $20,000 towards health costs like therapy.
Robert Downey Jr Ellen Show: Sources
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