Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Let Them Be Obsessed!

I'm a bit leery of traditional "therapies" targeted at kids with ASD. I agree with many who feel that the therapies focus too much on what the kids CANNOT do, and actually try to discourage the things that the child loves or is obsessed about. I think that the feeling there is that the kid will be picked on, or stick out, because they are SOOOO obsessed with X. They don't want other people to be staring at their kid, or they don't want their kid to be so obsessed. For some reason, this makes other people uncomfortable! Things get said, like, "WHY are you SO OBSESSED with that!!!"

Here's what I think. I think we need to indulge these kids more. I think we need to take their passions and obsessions and we need to find a way to make those things function in their daily lives. Your kid needs to do math homework, but is too obsessed with legos to do it? Why don't you use legos to teach the math? Why don't you bring the legos to the table, and use them as counting tools? I have found a whole link of things you can do to use legos for learning:

My B loves it when we get to use legos with math activities. The first time I introduced the idea, I just asked him innocently to go get 10 items from his room. Then I though, make it 10 legos! So, it takes him a minute and he comes back with 10 legos.
We do the math activity, and it's awesome. We get done, and he's tells me to wait a minute, and BOOM, he makes a lego car. He didn't just go get 10 legos, he got 10 legos that build something, and he did it in just a minute. This boy knows his stuff.

Then I think to myself what lego can be teaching him. How things fit together, counting, adding pieces together, breaking them down to see if other sized pieces can replace bigger ones. He has some technic pieces now too, so he is learning gears and real simple engineering. I mean, this is fabulous stuff! Why would I tell him to stop being obsessed with legos? It's something fun, he enjoys it, it relaxes him, I hear him in there singing, and he builds the most interesting things! He comes up with an idea, he explains his idea, he refines it and makes it better. 

So you're kid is obsessed with being a cat? Let them be a cat! Count kitty food or something. There is always a way to use the kid's passions to help them succeed. 

Why would you tear a kid away from the one thing they love, just because you think it isn't normal? While you try to tear them away from their "thing", you are causing them an awful lot of stress that isn't really necessary. Again I say, use this to motivate them to do what you need to do.

I recently watch the video about the "boy genius" who's mom was told he would basically never amount to anything because of his "disability". Now this kid is absolutely genius. She gave an example that he loved to look at water in a glass (I think) so she just gave him a bunch of glasses with different amounts of water in it. That kid was learning something from that, why tear him away from it because you think it's weird? (Read more about him here and here. One particularly interesting quote says:

"She believes in a learning technique she calls “muchness ... It is finding that thing that children are truly passionate about within themselves. It can’t be something that you’re telling them to do. And then it has to be total immersion, very rich experiences built around those interests.” "

Thinking back on my life, I can see how some of the things that I was obsessed with actually turned into being some of my greatest gifts. I wanted the people I care about to feel good, to feel welcome, to feel loved. I always was doing little things or big things that let them know they were special to me. I was teased, told I was weird, obsessed. It didn't really stop me, but it did make me confused. If it made me happy, and was rooted in the fact that I wanted to make THEM happy, who is it hurting? I just didn't get it. Maybe I didn't always show in the most "socially acceptable" way, and maybe I was a little "too obsessed". But instead of maybe being taught how to be socially appropriate about it, I was just viewed as weird, or stupid, or crazy, or whatever.

I guess, in a way, I still have the problem of wanting to help people, but being misunderstood. I want people to know things that I've learned or read, so I tend to almost drown them with all the information at once, and a lot of arguments have been started because of it! I never have learned to tone that passion down. Though, once a person gets to know that I'm only sharing to share, and not sharing to judge, then everything is fine. I guess I'm more like a male in the respect that when someone has a problem, I want to offer my suggestions for them to fix it.

Which brings to mind a pretty emotional video that goes around now and then by Penn Jillette, who talks about a man who spoke to him after a show and gave him a Bible. He goes on to say something along the lines of "How much do you have to hate someone to not proselytize?" 
I tend to feel that way about almost every topic I get passionate about. How much do you have to hate someone to not show them your passion about breastfeeding and helping moms make that be successful? How much do you have to hate someone to not share with them better information about diet and health? How much do you have to hate someone to not tell them that smoking or porn is wrong and damaging? Do you see what I mean?

Let the kids be obsessed. Let them be passionate. Let them discover what they are interested in and then let their little world be filled with those things, but also let those things lead them in other directions too! We don't just start with legos and never advance to lego technic. We don't just let matchbox cars be the only thing that captures the mind, we introduce books on the subject, which leads to a love for reading! There are just so many ways to do things with a child's interest - and if you can't think of them, then google it! The internet is a wonderful place of information for times like those. 

Anyway. I hope this post (that was intended to be short, sorry!) makes sense.

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