All kids get hooked on things, whether it's a show, a certain food, particular clothes, or toys. However, kids with autism get fixated, or obsessed and cannot move on without a nudge (or serious push!).
I talk about autism & the need for sameness here, and this thing with obsessions comes from the same part of their brain that wants to find order and control in a world that seems topsy-turvy to them.
My son Caleb's latest obsession is Buzz Lightyear.
Caleb has been cycling through the same obsessions his whole life: Baby Einstein, Veggie Tales (& Larry Boy), Spider Man, SpongeBob SquarePants, Toy Story, Thomas the tank engine, and Sesame Street. We managed to get rid of Baby Einstein when it seemed age appropriate (my thoughts on Baby Einstein), and Spiderman is only now involved in t-shirt choice, and we don't have to watch the old-school original episodes anymore (thank goodness!). So, we're no strangers to Buzz Lightyear, he's been in and out of Caleb's life for years and years!
When Caleb is obsessing about something, you literally won't hear the end of it! Sometimes, if I'm having a conversation with someone, Caleb will come to interrupt and say, "Did you say Buzz Lightyear?", as a way to be involved in the conversation, but with his topic choice. That gets old fast! How about, "Mom, what do you think about Buzz Lightyear?!?" (which I quietly answer under my breath, "I don't care about him at all!"), or "Mom, Buzz Lightyear's Blue utility belt and save the galaxy, and the evil emperor Zerg, and..." he could just rattle on like this for a while!
When the child with the obsession is like the child Sid from the first Toy Story (this Sid child is a toy destroyer!!!), it makes keeping up with the obsession more difficult.
Because Caleb is looking for sameness, when he rips off his Buzz Lightyears' arm and he realizes it can't be fixed, he is very hard to console.
Caleb's concept of cause and effect is immature, so, we're working with him to understand that if you are too rough with a toy, and it breaks, that's the end of that toy as he knew it (he usually breaks toys in such as away as they cannot be fixed!). We used to (as quickly as possible) buy him a replacement, but he's getting older now and needs to learn that if something breaks, it actually stays broken.
The upside to obsessions? Focus!
Caleb's fabulous former E.A. used Buzz Lightyear as an example for motivation here, when she said, "He loves Buzz Lightyear, so when it is time for writing – you guessed it – a story about Buzz Lightyear! (Hey, it works!)"
If you can use a child's obsession to drive their education, social skills, even computer skills, I think the obsession becomes an important part of the child's life for the better.
There is nothing inherently wrong with Buzz Lightyear or the Toy Story movies. They teach about trust, friendship, working through difficult situations, and being honest with yourself and others. I see no need to squash this obsession because of those reasons, so it seems logical that I would use it as a tool to make Caleb's life brighter. Buzz motivates Caleb to read and write, helps him with his typing skills (searching for videos on YouTube about Buzz!), and even helps him get ready in the morning (by telling him he can sit and play with Buzz before school once he is completely ready).
Am I sick of hearing about Buzz? Yup. But, if you ask me, obsession or not, that Buzz guy seems to be helping my son accomplish a lot, and sounds like a real super hero. :)
2/12/2014 09:02:07 pm
Yay for Buzz!!!
2/13/2014 10:23:03 pm
You have to admit, Buzz is pretty cool. Lol
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Hi, I'm Amy-Lyn!
I am the lady behind this here blog! I live in the sticks with my animals, my super handsome husband, and my
3 amazing kids!
Here you'll find things from recipes (gluten-free, paleo, and strait up junk food!), DIY ideas, thoughts on raising a son with autism, and whatever else pops into my brain! : )
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