Saturday, January 23, 2010
We are all passionate about something. Some might even call you obsessed over whatever that "thing" is for you personally.
One of the natural "side effects" of having children on the Autism spectrum, specifically with Aspergers is that sometimes they become fantastic doctors, lawyers, astronauts or teachers. They focus on one thing their entire life and become great at it. They study it day and night, they can't get enough of it and just when you think that is all they can know - there is more.
As a child, the focus is usually a little more broad. Kids enjoy playing a variety of different games, and their imagination takes them to some amazing places.
Chandler and Spencer are both different, but we notice a lot of the same characteristics in Spencer that we saw in Chandler when he was little (which was the primary reason that we were able to get Spencer early intervention).
Currently, Spencer's focus is Power Rangers. Chandler went through a Power Ranger obsession when he was about Spencer's age, and we had to buy every single Power Ranger toy and movie available (should of held on to that stuff).
This morning, I walked into Spencer's room and noticed that he was playing with every Power Ranger he had. The interesting part of his play was that he had lined each of them up by type of Ranger and then color. Don't attempt to move one of the Rangers out of place, it will destroy our whole day. You see, Obsessive Compulsiveness is a part of the disorder.
Chandler has become attached to Star Wars and soccer. He has also become very good at Math - and that has become his primary focus in school. The problem with that is, of course, other areas of study have suffered, and we work hard every day to try to keep him on track to move to the next grade.
I have learned that their obsession is their passion. That while it is not always the perfect situation that we have to learn to cater to whatever the current obsession is, allow them to embrace it - and hopefully there is some value to it. Spencer - once a child who was recessing and not speaking, now can engage in a month long conversation about the Red Ranger, his real name and favorite hobby.
Allowing him to focus on his obsession has helped him formulate complicated thoughts and free play scenarios.
One of the things that I have had to learn through all of this is pretty simple. I live in their world, they don't live in ours. They see things completely different. Their level of focus on specific items or tasks might not align with the rest of the world. That's OK - it has taken me almost 8 years to figure this out, but our lives are so much easier now because of it.
While we have to consistently adapt to the needs of the boys, I know that they will be better off because we do. And, I have even learned to like Power Rangers - even if I have seen every movie 1,000 times (a conservative estimate).
Father of Five
Two On The Autism Spectrum