Children With Autism: Turning Obsessions Into Growth Opportunities (Part 2)

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In my last blog, I described my son’s new obsession – dogs.

I gave a script to my dog on how to ask a dog owner if it
was okay to pet a strange dog. And, the obsession was well on its way.

How did the obsession
grow?

It grew when my son began to request to go to places where
he could meet dogs. He would ask to cross a street if he spotted a dog, or he
would run across a soccer field to meet a dog. This obsession was now entrenched.

Why is this new
obsession such a good thing?

I love this new obsession. First, my son now has a real love for dogs. I have had dogs
most of my life. I’m an animal lover and is that ever a bad thing?

He has learned to be kind to animals and curious about them
so much so that he seeks them out. And, he has strengthened his personal bond with his own dog.

But, that’s not all of it. This obsession has allowed my son to consistently get
practice with an important social skill – appropriately talking to strangers, in
this case, dog owners.

Awesome!

My son now confidently approaches a dog owner, asks
appropriate questions (he has plenty of questions now), and has a conversation.

He’s an autism kid practicing communication. He’s practicing
listening and social cues. And, it’s all good!

Has it always been
positive?

It took a while for him to catch on. As I mentioned in my previous blog, my son wasn’t always
listening when a dog owner said “no.” Once or twice we even encounter a nasty
person.

There was no doubt a learning curve. But, he improved and
now has confidence. I no longer need to stand by and monitor/intervene.

My son is now a dog lover and he’s approaching like-minded
people, one dog lover to another dog lover (I assume most people who own dogs
are therefore dog lovers on some level). And, he’s socializing.

He now takes great enjoyment petting the dog, and then
talking about the dog. This a skill he can maintain his entire life. It’s positive
and healthy. Which is why I love this new obsession.

So, what did I do to celebrate? I added “feeding the dog” to
his list of chores! He does it with a smile (that is, until the next obsession
comes along). 

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