TRIBUTES have been paid to a gentle giant who was obsessed by Disney and enjoyed a cheeky sense of humour.
Ben Heap, who was diagnosed with severe autism aged three and learned to talk from Disney films, died in his sleep.
His family have planned a funeral themed around The Walt Disney Company — saying Ben (27) would want it Disney-fied rather than dignified.
Mum Mel (53) said: “He was a gorgeous boy, inside and out. He didn’t understand our world but he had a proper sense of humour.
“Autism is a really difficult thing to explain to people when they don’t know. The more we can make people aware, the better.
“People would think Ben was just being naughty but it was that he couldn’t understand what he was being told to do.
“He didn’t understand our world. We had to go into his world, and he really started responding to Disney. That’s when everything changed.”
Ben, of South Street in Kimberworth, enjoyed trips to Disneyland Paris and Walt Disney World in Florida, where he also swam with dolphins.
The funeral takes place on Thursday, March 16, at 12.30pm at St Thomas’ Church, Kimberworth, with flowers or donations in lieu to the Robert Ogden School, which Ben attended.