Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Why Buddy The Elf Might Have Autism





It was the piles of shoes around the house that alerted me that something might be different with my son Tommy.





He would also obsess over various subjects. I remember how, even a six-year-old, he could tell you how food got digested because he was obsessed with the human body. He'd sometimes narrate it as he chewed his dinner. "First," he'd say, "my food is going down my esophagus." Seeing this little kid say the word esophagus was something else, let me tell you.

I've seen a lot of his quirks throughout the years and as we watched the movie Elf the other night, I suddenly saw Tommy in Buddy. I don't know why it took me so long to see it. But here are reasons why I think Buddy the Elf might have autism:





1. Buddy the Elf has an odd appetite. Sometimes people with autism can only eat certain things. For example, at Thanksgiving, all Tommy wants are the rolls. He can't have cheese on his burgers because he says the melted cheese feels weird on his teeth. I knew one kid with autism loved ketchup and would eat it by the spoonful.




2. Buddy likes to spin around and around in the door. Sometimes people with autism like the sensation of repetitive movements. Tommy used to love being on a swing. He also used to walk back and forth for about ten minutes at a time.



3. Like Buddy, people with autism can take things quite literally. Buddy believes the restaurant that says they have the world's best cup of coffee. When the lady in Gimbels says she has fruit spray, Buddy assumes that it's something to eat. He got his Dad lingerie because the sign said "For someone special.." and assumed that's what you gave special people. When Tommy was younger, I told him to "give me a minute" and he started counting down from 60.




4. If you want to know how you look in an outfit, ask someone with autism. They are blunt because in their minds, they are being honest, and being honest is part of the rules. Buddy the Elf certainly didn't hold back. Tommy once asked someone why they smoked. "Don't you know it gives you black lungs?"




5. People with autism might fixate on something that enjoy. Tommy would fixate on learning about the human body. Sometimes he'd say random facts out of context. For example, we might be talking about his day and he'd suddenly say, "The large intestine is shorter than the small intestine." Buddy the Elf really liked the name Francisco and repeated it.



6. Sometimes those with autism might not get when it's appropriate to announce things. For example, when Tom's Mom got really sick last year, Tommy was all, "She might die." Obviously Tom didn't want to hear that, and I had to remind Tommy that it really wasn't appropriate to say things like that. Buddy burst into an important meeting, not realizing how important it was because in his mind, he wanted to shout how happy he was:



7. Buddy took it to heart when his Dad told him to get out of his life. Tommy cannot stand for people to be upset with him and will immediately take off like Buddy did. He also can get quite overdramatic. He once told me, "You don't want me as your son anymore," simply because I lectured him on not picking up the trash in his room when he said he would.




I shared all these thoughts with Tommy, and he agreed.

"Maybe Buddy was born with autism like I was," he said matter-of-factly. "Having autism isn't bad at all. We're fun people."

So true, Tommy.



What do you think? Either way, Buddy is pretty awesome, just like people with autism.

30 comments:


  1. This analysis has touched me and amused me in equal measure, I think I will cover the movie with other eyes!

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  2. That's actually not surprising at all, and makes him all the more sweeter. Thanks so much for sharing this with all of us!

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  3. These are amazing observations and you are such a giving and loving parent to your son. Hope you have great holidays and I want to see Elf again and pay attention to his behavior.

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  4. Thank you for sharing your family time with us all. I think these little things are making him more adorable :)

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  5. I never thought of it like this but I can totally see how Buddy might have autism. I need to rewatch this movie soon.

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  6. I can see that it's possible that he has autism. Our family loves this movie, and we watch it every year.

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  7. I love the way you made the connections. There are things like this all around us and many times we don't stop long enough to notice them or the connections they make to our lives. Thank you for sharing.

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  8. People with autism are super awesome! Wow, I love this movie; I've seen it a dozen times. And I have a son with autism, but I never thought about this. I wonder if its really what the writers had in mind.

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  9. I LOVE your son's response to your question: "Having autism isn't bad at all. We're fun people." You are raising a smart young man who has a lot of self-confidence. This is so wonderful!

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  10. I love that movie and Buddy is so endearing. I never thought about if Buddy had autism, but it seems entirely possible. Tommy is right when he says that people with autism are fun people.

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  12. That's an interesting theory. Now I'll look differently at this particular character. :)

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  13. I never would have picked up on this either, but now that you put it like that I can see it! I suppose if you've watched your wee lad grow up with Autism, then you can start to identify it in others.
    Very interesting read.

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  14. Yes, they are fun people. Very often better people, better that a lot of us!

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  15. Buddy's actions manifests a condition. You can't help but observe though it's a fantasy based movie.

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  16. Buddy is a good type of friend to have. He may act a little weird at some point but he's really amazing. I find people with autism really really special.

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  17. Yes! I have read something like this before and I can totally see it. I love how you highlighted everything because at every point I was like, "Ohh my! Yes! So true!" In any case, Buddy the Elf is the most lovable holiday character!

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  18. I have always thought that my husband had un-diagnosed Autism because of some of these issues. Like taking things literally. He once bought one of those toilet deodorizers. I said, "open the lid and throw it in. He literally open the lid to the toilet (not the tank) and threw it in. It took me four days to unclog our pipes!(Rena)

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  19. I do think he has autism, but he sure is funny and a good person to be around which makes him special.

    -LYNNDEE

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  20. Oh I absolutely love this movie. We own it, but haven't watched it yet this year. I love your perspective. I'll be thinking about this when I watch it!

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  21. I honestly thought about this myself. One of my favorite movies too! I just love this one so much, and buddy is the best!

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  22. These are some great observations. Buddy is the best, but it very well could have autism.

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  23. As a die-hard ELF fan, this is SUPER interesting. And I think you're right!

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  24. I have never seen ELF but it sounds like you might be right.

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  25. I have seen the ELF movie and really enjoyed it. I think you are right, he might have Autism based on the short GIF videos you showed in the post.

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  26. This is definitely something to think about! I wonder if the writers intended for this line of though?

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  27. Can you believe that I've never managed to watch this movie? Now I need to do it to check all your thoughts

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  28. I have never watched this movie but now I am more intrigued after your observations. Thanks for sharing.

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  29. I never looked at Buddy's Quirks this way. Tommy is right about people with autism being fun people!

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  30. Thank you for sharing this. My cousin has autism and one of the things I love about him is his honesty and his observations.

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Thanks for the comment!

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