Who doesn’t love a minion? Bright yellow, pill shaped, adorable little squishy characters. They make little sense, yet they have captured the hearts of adults and children across the world! My boys love them as much as the next child. But Hayden seems particularly taken with the minion movie. He will sit there and laugh uncontrollably throughout their latest film, and he seems completely absorbed with their behaviours. Hayden hasn’t found so much pleasure in a film for a long time, and it got me wondering why? Was he seeing a familiarity with certain minion behaviour? Did he relate to their language restriction?, or did he connect with some of their particulars? It then led me to ask myself. Does my autistic son identify with minions?
Here are some of the reasons why….
They’re the same but different
No two children on the autistic spectrum are the same, but yet they have a lot of similarities. Similar behaviours, similar interests and the need for similar things such as routine and structure. Minions are very much like this, whilst their most obvious similarity is their appearance (which is not true with autism of course) they have individual characters and quirkiness but yet all have the same needs. The need for a boss, the need for bananas and the desire to do everything possible to please their ‘boss’.
They are all obsessed with something
In the minions movie, they have one single goal, to find a boss. But even in the despicable me films, the minions all seem to have obsessions whether it be banana’s, dressing up, or getting naked. Many autistic children have things they are particularly fond of. Hayden is obsessed with being naked, climbing, and lining up objects. If he doesn’t have the opportunity to do each of these things then he can become very unsettled.
They’re not socially ‘correct’
Minions are loud, don’t understand forming queues, and appear on the surface to have very few manners. In a public place, to others, Hayden could appear to be loud, impatient and lack any social skills. He ignores people that talk to him, he doesn’t realise squealing because he is happy is not really the expected behaviour in a restaurant and waiting his turn is not something he understands at all. Much like the minions he is very excitable and can be hard to handle in these situations, especially at 4am!
Once you get to know them you will understand how they communicate
When the minions first appeared in Despicable Me, nothing they said made any sense, it was their expressions that gave away what they were thinking or saying. Two films on and whilst their language isn’t perfect, we now understand nearly everything they say. We have got to know them, and over time (another film) we have a higher level of understanding their ways of communicating. This is much the same for non verbal children. If you don’t know them it is pretty impossible to understand their wants and needs. But with time and a lot of patience, you learn to understand their expressions, their body language and their mannerisms, which in turn helps your level of communication even without the need of properly pronounced words. There are probably only 3 people that know what Hayden wants pretty much all the time, and that is me, James and his 1:1, purely because we spend the most time with him. Other family members have a high understanding, but there are times when they are unsure. And if you aren’t a regular in Hayden’s company, you will have no idea what something like climbing on the kitchen side means. (It means he is hungry by the way!).
They have ridiculous amounts of energy
The minions never seem to stop. They are on the go all day, everyday. In fact I can’t remember ever seeing a sleeping minion. Hayden is very much the same. The second he gets up in the morning (anything from 2am) he is running around, lining up toys, throwing toys around, bouncing on his trampoline, jumping on beds, and generally trashing every room possible. He loves being outdoors and active whenever possible and could probably outrun and jump a child double his age. Yet, he can still be awake until 11pm on an evening.
They wear the same clothes everyday
As I have mentioned above, Hayden loves to be naked, when we aren’t expecting visitors and he is inside the house, I let him carry on. If for whatever reason he has to wear clothes, his choice will always be pyjamas. In fact pyjamas are the only item of clothing I have never had an issue getting him into. A few minions like to dress up for whatever activity they are participating in such as a fireman, maid or pop star. But their uniform of choice are their denim dungaree’s. Every single day!
So what do you think? Are my late nights and early mornings turning me into a crazy lady? Am I reading too far into something or do you think I could be onto something here? Does Hayden actually identify with minions? Or is he just another minion crazy child along with 80% of other children? There does seem to be a lot of similarities, but maybe they are similar to all children and not just my autistic son? Are poorly speaking, socially awkward, sometimes aggressive, loveable, endearing little characters even positive role models?
To me, I just described my son.