Autism Awareness: Why I can quote every line of Despicable Me…

“AAAAA-MOOOO!”

“Hey Luke, it’s time for school — “

“Aaaa-Mooo!”

“Hey Luke, you want some dinner — “

“AAAA-MOOO!”

“Uh, God bless, you, Luke — ? “

“Aaaa-Moo!?

It was a headscratcher. What’s he saying? AAA-Mooo! We had no idea? He said it to everyone — Grandma, Aunts, Cousins, Teachers, UPS guy. AAAA-Moo! Aaa-Moo!

Every morning before Luke climbs on the school bus, he’d watch Despicable Me. It’s his alarm-clock. Sometimes he mixes in Fantastic Mr. Fox (a movie I’ve now seen over 1000 times) or some re-mix style channel on YouTube called YouTubePoop(don’t ask)…

Luke doesn’t really watch TV or movies…I mean that’s ALL he does but…he just watches scenes, shots…constantly rewinding certain scenes or snippets. He watches 10 seconds, rewinds, watches, rewinds, watches. Ironically, he’s done this with Groundhog Day.

His morning coffee is the Despicable Me scene where Groo addresses his minions and tells them he’s going to steal — THE MOON!!!

That’s what he’s saying! “The MOON!”

“Amoooo!” He’d ‘repeat’. “Ammmooooo!”

He’s movie quoting! This I could understand! This was something my friends and I did as kids. Get to the CHOPPA! Don’t Get Cocky Kid! I’d BUY THAT FOR A DOLLAR! My friends and I still say these things to each other…it’s a little weird…

Okay, so understanding where we were…this was a kid who would never voluntarily have a conversation and would mostly live life as if everyone else was in the way.

To get a few moments of his attention was tremendously difficult. And cause for a celebration.

Amoooo was a breakthrough!

We went through a phase where we would watch that scene over and over again and take turns doing the parts. Saying the words. Sort of like a late night Rocky Horror Picture Show.

It was communication. It was…fun. We were enjoying a movie TOGETHER.

Luke even turned on the closed captioning so we’d get the words right.

We’d laugh. We’d switch it up. Sometimes we’d improvise a funny new word.

Then we’d repeat it. Over and over and over.

(yes, ask me to recite whole scenes from Despicable Me and watch me go)

He’d ask for it. Even demand it. It was…playing…

He was about 3 at the time. He still watches Despicable Me most mornings and occasionally does the back-and-forth. He’s mixed in other stuff like Shrek roaring and Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs.

About once a night, a hysterical look will come down the steps laughing and hunts me out. He wants to share the fun with me. He wants to repeat the lines. He also wants me to tickles his ears and neck to maximize the giggles.

Recently, I heard another parent of a classmate describe teary-eyed about how their Dad and Son talk about Dinosaurs. A daily Q&A session — what Dino eats plants? What dino has a long neck?

It was the same thing. The connection. The dialogue. It’s real.

There’s a book that came on my radar called Life, Animated about a family that connected with their son through Disney Movies. I got it. It’s a fun and emotional read. I’ll link it at the bottom. The Disney lessons morphed and stretched into life lessons throughout the boys adolescents.

There’s something about that scene Luke watches where Groo declares his master plan that’s stuck with him. Maybe it’s the cackling Minions, or Groo’s confidence, or the visual of the big sparkling moon.

Or maybe it’s a mission statement. Maybe like that kid with the Disney, this lesson goes deeper. Hey Dad, stick with me and one day together we’ll steal the moon.

For further reading, here’s a link to an article about that book.

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