Your Fave is Autistic Part 9: Gordo

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I’ve been meaning to make this post for awhile.

Lizzie McGuireThat’s So Raven, and Even Stevens were my holy trinity of live action Disney Channel (or in my country, Family Channel) shows. Recently, I decided to check out Lizzie McGuire again (it’s pretty easily available online) and it holds up very well to this day.

And oh my god, when I saw Gordo again, I became 1000000000000% convinced that he was autistic. It’s amazing how I never realized it before.

I think the first major giveaway of him being autistic is that he’s extremely honest, but very blunt and on the nose, not always making appropriate statements. He doesn’t hesitate to tell the hard truth and point out when people are wrong or ridiculous and when he doesn’t like them or want to hang out with them. He also has some trouble picking up on social cues, often missing out what the rest of his peers are doing; in one episode, Ethan Craft tried to demonstrate a special pose that the boys their age were doing for their school photos, but Gordo was confused about the whole thing. In other, when Lizzie was distressed about not finding a job, Gordo was expected to say “I might not be a film director” but instead reinforced Miranda’s “I might not become a musician”.

He is highly intelligent and studious, often looking at things from a different point of view, making unique, poignant observations, such as “Any group activity that forces others to be happy, is by nature, evil”. (This can also show why he doesn’t have a lot of friends and is not very social outside of Miranda and Lizzie.)

He tends to hyperfixate on certain (often weird and definitely not mainstream) things and it often takes over his life (there have been quite a few episodes on his obsessions) and does not always like sharing them (or only shares it with certain people). But his biggest passion is to direct (again, a common interest for a lot of autistic people is with movies).

He is seen playing with a hacky sack a lot (kicking it around), which can easily be seen as stimming.

More than anything, he repeatedly makes it clear that he is not like everyone else and values individuality and being true to yourself. I relate to that a lot. I had trouble understanding why I had to conform to social roles, and often see things differently from others (my whole blog is full of unpopular opinions, haha).

Since this is a 65 episode long show, there’s probably a few details I missed out, so I recommend you check the show out. It will be easy to see that he’s his own unique person, one that just so happens to be relatable to me as someone who’s autistic.

Your Fave Is Autistic Part 8: Laura/X-23

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Logan is a great movie. It is the prime example of the gritty superhero movie done RIGHT. It’s absorbing, it’s touching, it’s intense, it has a lot of heavy themes and graphic violence, but still has funny moments and an optimistic ending. I really do believe Hugh Jackman should get an Oscar nomination for his performance, even if he won’t win.

Another reason why I like this movie a lot is the character of Laura. From the moment she first showed up I immediately saw her as autistic. (Mild spoilers from this point on.)

For starters, she’s described as ‘mysterious’ and ‘strange’, and has some of Logan’s ‘volatility, instability, mood swings, and shadows’ (only manifested in a different way). Those sound like pretty common descriptions for someone who’s autistic.

For most of the film, she doesn’t talk, and when she does speak, it’s very quiet and brief; she doesn’t talk the same way the other characters do, and tends to scream or communicate through other sounds. Some autistic people have trouble communicating verbally/have problems with language skills/are known to have selective mutism, and that is almost certainly the case for her character.

She behaves a bit younger than her actual age, and tends to get easily frustrated or angry/scared, such as when someone tries to move her things, when a ride stops working, or when someone points out she has to pay for sunglasses (which she wears almost all the time) and chips.

She also gets really absorbed in movies and music and is fluent in both English and Spanish. These are all common strengths and fascinations.

And most of all is her special connection with Xavier. They’re able to empathize with and understand each other, since they both have mental problems and they’re on the run. They get really close to each other. It’s pretty common for a lot of autistic kids to bond easier with older people than their peers. When Logan is able to warm up to Laura and gets closer to her, she grows to love him as her own father.

For a moment, I was a little concerned that maybe most of this behaviour was just because of her horrible upbringing, but when we’re introduced to the other children who were experimented on, she doesn’t quite behave like them. They all have perfect speech and can interact with others like common kids. Laura is noticeably different from the rest of them. So I think Laura is purposefully meant to stand out, and I see it as her being autistic.

I heard the director of Logan wants to make an X-23 movie, and I hope he does. This character is really great and the idea of an autistic/neurodivergent-coded character becoming the hero of her own movie could do a world of wonders. At any rate, I look forward to seeing more of this character and the future of this franchise.

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Your Fave is Autistic Part 7: Catwoman

Happy Autism Acceptance Month! To celebrate, let’s start with another entry to my series with none other than DC’s iconic antihero, Catwoman!

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Now, this might be a tricky entry since Catwoman is a comic book character and thus her personality and history are at the whims of writers, retcons and reboots. For this entry, I’m going to focus on what I consider the biggest piece of evidence: Catwoman #0 (pre New 52) by Doug Moench and Jim Balent:

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This goes into Selina Kyle’s backstory as a child. Early on, she’s adept at gymnastics and is very agile (a great way for her to stim), is pretty withdrawn, and loves cats, even if she doesn’t know how to appreciate them. We get some information of her life and school, and how it tends to be a blur, refusing to interact with students (something I can relate to) and mostly doing what she wants, probably because she doesn’t understand why. The principal brings up how it’s possible Selina Kyle might have a learning disability, and it wouldn’t surprise me if she could be autistic.

Her father later dies from alcohol poisoning, and Selina doesn’t know how to properly handle the situation or express a lot of empathy or sadness at the death of her father, instead running away. She later gets caught and gets sent to an abusive juvenile detention center, still refusing to interact with others, and finding refuge being alone on the rooftop, stimming to her heart’s content, imagining a life of riches and wonders. When she escapes, she crawls from rags to riches, surrounding herself with cats, able to live how she wants.

In that one issue, I can see a lot of evidence that Catwoman is probably on the spectrum (fixation and love of cats and jewels, problem with empathy and social skills, doesn’t understand rules and norms, stims with gymnastics, highly skilled), or at the very least neurodivergent one way or another.

Is there any other evidence? Maybe. Catwoman is meant to be someone you don’t fully know, having a lot of secrets. The main thing, though, is that she’s always meant to be different, to stand out, to be her own unique character, to not be ‘normal’. So I more than welcome autistic headcanons for a complex, layered, and iconic character that will be loved for years to come.

If you have any autistic or neurodivergent headcanons for Catwoman, please leave one in the comments below! Help me make more entries by giving me other characters to make posts on!

 

Your Fave is Autistic Part 6: Winnie the Pooh and Friends

I know, I know. There’s a popular theory that each character is based off a common psychiatric disorder. But I have an alternate theory, one that’s a little less dark, if you will; that the characters represent different forms of autism.

 

Let’s imagine, that Christopher Robin is an autistic little boy, and probably has a hard time fitting in with school or socially. So he turns to his stuffed animals. With an active imagination (something I had growing up), he makes up his own stories and scenarios with himself and his toys, and with each of them he projects a type of autism.

You have Pooh, who more than loves honey (some autistic children can only eat certain foods) and is fiercely loyal to the friends he has. You have Rabbit, who has a special interest (gardening) and doesn’t like it when people mess with this things or habits and gets frustrated easily. You have Tigger, who stims by bouncing and tends to be very blunt and to the point. Then there’s Owl, who is invested in books and research and stories and loves to talk about his interests (and lives up in a tree, giving him more privacy from the others). Piglet can’t always tell when something is real and when something isn’t (like how some autistic people can’t understand sarcasm), which would lead him to be anxious. Eeyore does show signs of depression, but keep in mind, he’s the only character that walks on four legs/has no thumbs, so that’s probably an indicate he can’t communicate or express himself properly, which leads him to be the way he is. The only outliers would be Kanga and Roo, who are supposed to represent a mother and a child. (There’s also Gopher, but I don’t think he’s fully considered part of the family since he hasn’t always made appearances.)

I say this because while I want more representation of mental illnesses, but when people talk about the characters in Winnie the Pooh having different neurotypes, it’s always negative, dark, and cynical. With this post, I’m reclaiming these characters and spinning something positive from them. Maybe you can get something positive from them, too.

Your Fave is Autistic Part 5: Pidge Gunderson/Katie Holt

So out of curiosity I decided to check out the new show Voltron: Legendary Defender. (Disclaimer: I have no nostalgic ties to Voltron. I didn’t even know what it was until recently. Also, spoilers if you haven’t seen the show.) What did I think?

I thought it was good, but not great. I especially would’ve liked more female characters. But, I did love Pidge. And the reason why was because I could definitely see them (I think Pidge might be non-binary or transgender so I’m using they pronouns just to be safe) as being autistic.

For starters, they don’t like it when people touch their things. I can relate to that a lot. Secondly (and perhaps most importantly) is that they are EXTREMELY smart and tech savvy (more than the rest of the team) and they absolutely LOVE robots, to the point where they form a really close bond with one (and is devastated when that robot can’t be with them anymore).

Another clue is that they’re oddly specific. At one point, when Princess Allura tries to dig more info from them, they go on a tangent and say how they like peanut bother and other peanut products but not actual peanuts (they think peanuts are too dry) and has a bit of a hard time picking up social cues. They are VERY close to their family and fixate on wanting them back and has some trouble forming with the rest of the team (the closest they get to is Shiro, who is very calm and soft spoken and patient).

I think a major clue is their gender presentation. There’s a lot of research that presents a link between autism and gender dysphora. Just google “autism and gender identity” and you should have lots of links to studies and articles on it (there are too many for me to link). And the thing about Pidge is that they were assigned female at birth (unless it’s revealed that’s not the case later), presented as a boy at the start of the series (for plot reasons) and just sort of stayed that way. Even after they said “I’m a girl” they still go by the name Pidge and don’t present more femininely. So I think that’s a major clue that Pidge doesn’t fully align with the gender binary and is probably figuring things out in addition to being autistic.

The show only has one season consisting of thirteen episodes so far but from what I’ve seen there’s enough evidence to suggest Pidge is autistic and non-binary or trans. I can’t wait to see where the show will take this character in the upcoming seasons.

Your Fave is Autistic Part 4: Vanellope Von Schweetz and Wreck-It Ralph

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Wreck-It Ralph is one of my all-time favourite movies. It is extremely well-written, beautifully animated, has great and memorable characters and relationships, a fantastic villain, a compelling story, and lots of heart. It is, in my opinion, the greatest Disney film in a long time, as well as it’s most progressive (I’ll talk about why in another post). But one of the reasons why I love this movie so much is because the two main characters, Wreck-It Ralph and Vanellope Von Schweetz, resonate with me very deeply and personally. I see myself a lot in Vanellope, and I felt so much for Ralph. These are both characters who go through a lot of discrimination and hardship, and I think a good chunk of it is because I see them being coded to be autistic.

Now, it’s pretty obvious that Vanellope is coded to be disabled in at least one way due to being a glitch. Her actually glitching can be seen as a metaphor for a lot of disabilities and disorders (for me personally, I see it as stimming/flapping). Her story arc involves her being bullied, ostracized, and seen as a burden at best, dangerous at worst. She is seen as a ‘mistake’ that wasn’t supposed to exist. She is often told that certain bad things done to her are ‘for her own good’. Sounds pretty similar to ableist rhetoric, doesn’t it?

It goes without saying that a lot of people with disabilities and mental disorders IMMEDIATELY picked up how Vanellope was almost certainly disabled herself. I think it’s possible that she’s meant to represent (and empower) people of ALL different disabilities, though it’s entirely likely to read her as autistic in addition to having a physical disability (she is fascinated with racing and go karts, loving making her own karts, is very sharp and doesn’t pull punches, and is seen chewing and fiddling with the strings of her sweater). Her role as being a representation/metaphor has been hotly debated (though I personally think she is actually disabled, since she’s seen keeping her glitching even after she’s no longer a ‘glitch’), and while people could argue she’s less meant to represent autism as much as people with physical disabilities, I can say that Ralph is definitely coded to be autistic.

Despite having lived with giant hands for 30 years, he still has a lot of trouble with motor skills. He is very expressive and gets frustrated and emotional very easily, sometimes leading to overreacting and minor meltdowns. He has a lot of trouble with personal hygiene, resulting in spiky hair and bad breath, and he doesn’t have very good social or empathy skills (though he gets better with the latter by the end of the movie). He is fixated on getting a medal to get a better life (realizing that companionship and taking things slowly is better) and is extremely loyal to the people he loves. He has trouble wearing shoes (to the point where he goes barefoot at his friends’s wedding), isn’t very good at lying, and gets completely overwhelmed with the sensory nightmare that is Hero’s Duty. But what I find most interesting is how he is treated, and it goes a bit beyond him just being a bad guy.

You see, he is the only known bad guy that gets routinely stopped by the surge protector. ‘Special’ treatment? He is shown to be poor and stuck in a bad job position (a common problem for many autistic people). But most of all, he is told and realizes he can’t change who he is, and has to learn to come to grips with it, as long as he is accepted, has friends who understand and love him for who he is, and gets the help he needs.

Some people have pointed out that, if this movie was seen as a metaphor for class struggle, it kind of delivers a bad message about not being able to move out of your position and have to accept it. But if you read it as someone with autism, and where both he and everyone else realizes that’s who he is and he can’t change or cure it, and they give him the proper accommodations and he is able to take his struggles ‘one game at a time’, it becomes an infinitely more positive message. It also ties in with Vanellope’s story of being empowered and accepted, glitches and all.

It’s easy to see why this movie matters so much to me, and I hope it will continue to matter to a lot of people for a long time.

Your Fave is Autistic Part 3: The Big Hero 6 Team

(Yes, all of them. Even the robot. Buckle up!)

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I’ve made it no secret that I love this movie to my very core. In addition to being a fantastic movie in it’s own right, the characters STRONGLY resonate with me. I mentioned before how this movie makes me feel validated as a person with mental health issues, but I have to say, as a person with autism, I can TOTALLY see myself in each of these characters. The way I see it, the movie is about a group of people with ASD finding each other and becoming close friends and being superheroes together. You can see why this movie is my fave now. And here’s my proof. As a preface, apparently scientists are starting to find a link between prodigies and autism (which all the characters are), and they are all hyperfixated on a special skill which they integrate into their superheroics. That’s the first major clue. I’ll break down each character.

HIRO HAMADA

A lot of people see Hiro as autistic, and for good reason. For starters, his looks. His hair is disheveled, he has crooked and gapped teeth and he doesn’t have a wide range of clothes, staying with loose, comfy clothes. This is common for a lot of autistic people; certain clothes and textures can be seriously uncomfortable, and putting time and effort into their appearance and hygenie can be difficult (brushing my hair is an absolute nightmare, and when I had to have braces, it wasn’t pleasant). There’s also the fact that while he is very smart and talented, he LOVES robots. He fixates on them. He has a passion for them. There’s also the fact that he has no friends (the lack of social skills, plus the fact that he’s a genius probably didn’t help) but he’s VERY close to his brother and his aunt. When he does have friends, his closest and best friend is a robot (for some autistic people it’s easier to bond with nonhuman companions) and his other best friends are all older than him (for me, I find it way easier to connect with older people than my peers; I wouldn’t be surprised if other autistic people feel the same way). He also runs his hand throw his hair and uses his hands a lot (a way of stimming). He has trouble getting used to new ideas and routines (he doesn’t feel like he wants  to go to college because what’s the point) but once he finds the new thing he likes he gets very attached to it, almost hyperactively. He is also shown as being obsessive (very common for autistic people), which, in addition to his grieving and his depression (a common comorbidity), explains a lot of his actions. I also like to see it as being related to him being hypersensitive/hyper-empathetic. It’s entirely possible that autism could run in his family, as both Aunt Cass and Tadashi are very expressive with their hands and jump around when they’re excited (I’m not going to focus on them in this post since Cass doesn’t have a lot of screen time and Tadashi dies, so yeah). In short, there’s a lot of room to support Hiro being autistic, and because he’s the main character and portrayed as multifaceted, complex, and sympathetic, it’s really wonderful.

GOGO

Out of all the teammates, she is the one who talks the least. And when she does talk, she sounds different, like it’s difficult for her. It’s entirely possible she started as a nonverbal autistic person and only learned to speak later in life, and she’s short, slightly disjointed, to the point, and very blunt and honest. Again, there’s the fixation on a certain skillset: for her, it’s transportation. She’s got to go fast. A lot of autistic people need to flap and/or pace around, and Gogo probably does this through being fast. She also chews gum a lot, but instead of throwing gum out, she carefully sets it aside so she can chew it later. This could be a way for her to stim.

WASABI

A lot of people (both jokingly and seriously) have said that Wasabi has OCD, and to be fair that could be true, as OCD is a common comorbidity with autism (I should know, it’s one for me). Wasabi is shown liking routines and rules to help him function, makes sure everything is neatly organized and gets extremely agitated when those things are disrupted. He needs a plan for everything that makes sense and gives him something to do and keep him calm. It can also be argued that he wears special armour that he’s more comfortable with. He also gets irritated easily with certain sounds (mainly Fred’s singing). He is very precise, is intelligent with physics, and is shown to be adept at wielding lazer blades (which can be seen as a way for him to stim).

HONEY LEMON

This woman is so fascinated with chemistry that she can input chemical equations to create chem-balls on the fly. That says a lot. She loves to bounce (again, there’s a stim/special form of excitement) and she always wears heels (probably another way for her to stim by constantly being on her toes, and/or it could be the best way for her to be comfortable). She’s very affectionate and loves encouraging and being supportive of people, is very sociable and takes a lot of selfies, which almost certainly points to her having hyper-empathy.

FRED

Now this might be cheating a little bit because Fred is sort of implied to be a stoner, but the evidence of him being autistic is still there. He has the special interest/knowledge and hyperfixation of things again, only this time it’s with comics and media. He LOVES media and applies his knowledge of it in real life, just like me (and probably lots of other autistics)!He also comes across as weird and says some silly things when he gets really happy and excited, but I’m pretty sure he’s not alone in that regard. His fave thing ever is kaiju monsters, to the point where he’s totally comfortable wearing a kaiju suit for extended periods of time. He’s also shown loving to jump real high, is very good with waving signs, and points a lot, which are all clues of him stimming and having special habits. He also dresses in loose clothing and rarely wears different clothes (he’s so attached to one shirt that it has holes in it) and doesn’t like changing his underwear every day. But I think he is also hyper-empathetic and hypersensitive; when bad or sad things happen, he always looks like he’s on the verge of tears (when it looks like Baymax is gone forever, we don’t get to see his face; I think he was actually crying).

BAYMAX

Okay this is definitely cheating because he’s a robot, but honestly, I couldn’t help but see a lot of mannerisms common in autistic people in him. He has a limited range in voice and expressions and gestures, has a specific way of greeting people (always wave and say “Hello I am Baymax your personal healthcare companion”), is very knowledgeable in safety and medical treatments and relays textbook information, and has trouble understanding certain things (why he has to do certain things, what’s the fist bump for) but once he knows them he integrates it into his life. I know this part was probably not intentionally, but I couldn’t help catch similarities between him and some autism mannerisms. Which, for me, is what makes the bond between him and Hiro even more special.

In conclusion, the entire BH6 team is autistic or at least coded to be neurodivergent and it is awesome and glorious. It also shows how you can have positive portrayals of autistic/neurodivergent people without resorting to stereotypes.

And this is why I love this movie so much.