Monday, November 14, 2011

Can you PLEASE STFU about dinosaurs?? PLEASE?!?!?

Kids go on tangents...from only eating mac and cheese for months  at a time to watching Finding Nemo 500 times. A day. I get that. But until I had a child with Autism I did not realize how bad it could be .

Some children on the spectrum may be natural scholars and become extremely knowledgeable about a subject they enjoy.  Extremely knowledgeable and unfortunately- extremely annoying at times. My son for instance can rattle off names of dinosaurs, the biggest, fiercest, heaviest, fastest, longest, the  epoch they lived in, etc. etc.  This used to be a source of constant amazement to me- and still is at times, I mean it is pretty impressive when a 9 year old can rattle off names and facts  that stump me.  In fact, may stump ANYONE  who is not a Paleontologist... but it is starting to really wear on my nerves now.  And I was a dinosaur encyclopedia as a kid too! 

I think of the autistic brain like a computer-  all data is stored in easy to access folders- with autism, when these folders get full,  instead of being able to delete some unnecessary files, they spill out into other areas- this causes the obsessive behavior to come into play. This is my hastily concocted theory- I have no scientific proof to back this up- it's just based on the observations of my own kid over the last 6 years.  And his overflow is dinosaurs.  Into EVERY other aspect of his thinking....

Dinosauria is a part of just about every single conversation we have. His latest obsession, a show called Primeval, has just about sent me over the edge. I hear about the characters, the dinosaurs, the "future predators" the this, the that- ALL centered around this show.  I have gotten to the point that I tune him out and just nod and say things just to appease him. I HATE doing that. When I am so blessed with an autistic child who can and does speak, tuning him out seems like such a heinous thing to do. But I can't tell him "I DON'T CARE ABOUT THE DAMN SHOW" , he will not understand why I yelled, and then he will still go on trying to explain it to me... it's a battle I cannot win.

Temple Grandin says to embrace the obsessions- as that could be what the kid will grow up to do- and to a certain point I do agree- but 4th grade there is so much he NEEDS to be doing... so much he is supposed to be doing and this obsession is really hindering his learning process.  

I have tried using it to my advantage- books, games, everything from math to social studies lessons using dinosaurs as the subject, but not only am I running out of ideas, I am running out of patience.

So it's back to research mode- something I am very good at. Trying to find ways to make his obsession work FOR him, as well as ways to broaden his horizons. Believe me, kids just look at him like he is from another planet when he starts going off on a dinosaur tangent... and that is NOT good for his social life.