I am a proud member of Generation Y, and something that defines Gen Y is technology. And for me, that means that I came of age on the internet, and being immersed in internet culture since puberty means that I’ve got quite a large internet vocabulary, including the word I want to talk to you about today: the Head-canon. Head-canon’s are not an internet-specific thing, it just took the existence of online communities for it to have a name. I’m sure you’ve had a head-canon before- it’s something you believe about your favorite movie character, even though it was never shown or talked about in the movie.
Head-canons are great because it can enhance our understanding of the character. It can let us have an idea about what happens after the story ends, and it lets us feel a greater connection to our favorite characters. And connection is what it’s all about.
Because Autistic people don’t get to see themselves represented in media nearly as often as they should (and when we do, the characters are often based on outdated stereotypes), a lot of head-canon characters that they relate to as autistic. It’s always interesting how writers write autistic type characters without knowing it.
These are a few of my autistic head-canon-ed characters. I’d like to note that two of them are aliens, which could contribute to some of their autistic traits, but I’m comfortable that even if they weren’t aliens, they’d still hold up.
1. Lawrence Fletcher from Phineas and Ferb- There are several characters from Phineas and Ferb that I would guess were autistic, but out of all of them, Lawrence is my favorite. He is the father of the two title characters, and if you know much about autism, he’s hard to miss. One of my favorite things about his is his portrayal of not just echolalia, but delayed echolalia as well! He has a special interest, a show from his childhood, that he is so enthusiastic about that he draws his children in as well. I think the best part about his portrayal is that his wife and children are completely accepting of him, going along with everything he does, not just because they love him, but they have confidence in him.
2. Luna Lovegood from Harry Potter- Luna is portrayed in the Harry Potter series as “quirky” and “absentminded”, which I think are a subtle way of saying autistic. Luna shares a quality that I had, especially when I was young- people thinking I was weird, and me not knowing about it. She’s incredibly introverted, and while she doesn’t struggle with friendships, she needs time to devote to her special interest, which is magical creatures. She can talk about any magical creature at length, and that’s the sort of conversation that she’s most comfortable with. Her friends seem to treasure her, accepting that her beliefs are important to her, and they know that she’s incredibly loyal, and if they ever need her, she’ll be there.
3. Groot from Guardians of the Galaxy- This is the first alien on my list, and I’m confident in my head-canon-ing. Groot is non-verbal, all he can say in English is “I am Groot”. He’s been partners-in-crime with Rocket Raccoon, and often only seems interested in interacting with him. He is shown as being flinchy, which I interpret as having sensory processing issues. He’s also stimming almost constantly, playing with his stems and leaves, and bopping along to his music. Though the whole ‘being an alien’ thing probably contributes, Groot often seems confused by what others are doing, and what they want from him, and tends to do his own thing, instead of trying to figure them out.
4. River Tam from Firefly- Even before she was experimented on by an evil government project, River Tam showed signs of autism. She is a genius and is shown being far ahead of her older brother when it comes to academics. She also does something that I do- she’s too morbid for the situation. I’ve never been good at judging when it’s okay to do things like talk about death and violence, which I now know makes other people uncomfortable. After being tortured and experimented on, River’s autism traits grow to savant-like proportions. Not to mention that she becomes a living weapon. I think my favorite things about River is just how literal she is. In one episode, she starts ripping the pages out of the resident preacher’s bible. She totally destroys the story of Noah, because to quote her “Noah’s Ark is a problem. We have to call it early quantum state phenomenon. Only way to fit 5000 species of mammal on the same boat.”
5. The Doctor from Doctor Who- Here’s my second alien, and he’s special because he has the ability to regenerate himself, and all his different versions (we’re up to 13 now!) have different personalities. One thing that all of his regenerations have in common is that they’re all fairly baffled by humans. And while some people might argue that this is an alien thing, this alien is almost ten centuries old and has spent a huge chunk of those years among humans, so if it were simply a cultural difference, I think he’d have acclimated already. The most recent Doctors, numbers 11 and 12, have had more autistic traits than their predecessors. 11 has some major food issues and has a tendency to repeat phrases. The 12th Doctor does subtle little autistic things, like raptor hands, and sensitivity to touch. The 13th Doctor premiers in 2018, so we’ll have to see what this new Doctor is like!
6. Wade Wilson from Deadpool- So in the Deadpool comic books, Deadpool is known for breaking the fourth way, aka, he talks to the audience. This, and the self-aware that he must have to know that he’s a comic book character screams autism to me. Mostly because I’m overly and painfully self-aware. It makes therapy real interesting, let me tell you. Back to Wade. That man never stops fiddling with things. Besides tapping and spinning anything he can get his hands on, he plays with his weapons. Which is a great way to get dead. He’s another one with echolalia, he’s constantly repeating words that he finds fun to say. In the superhero world, he’s known for his attention to detail and his constant over planning. What makes him a lovable character, I mean, as lovable as a mercenary can be, is the fact that he has real respect for other people, and that he values his relationships.
Ok, wow. That was a lot of detail. I didn’t realize that I had so much to say about my head canons. So if you’ve made it this far, instead of describing in great detail your favorite autistic head-canons, just tell me your character in general!