Iʼve talked about obsessions before, but since they are a big part in the life of a person with autism, so I figure it’s worth talking about again…and again and again and again!
Are all obsessions bad?
Sometimes I feel like quoting Temple Grandin. “If your child has some kind of obsession, maybe try to cultivate it. You never know if that child has just invented something that will change the world.”
That is Templeʼs sentiment and I agree with it.
So, no, I donʼt think all obsessions are bad.
For the most part, my son was always obsessed with something—cars, fire trucks, the Titantic—even though that one was for a relatively short period of time and then it was gone.
At one point, he was into airplanes. The obsession went away and then returned for a bit. This also happened with chess. Came, went, and then returned.
My son had an obsession once with punch buggies. That was kind of fun (plus we didn’t allow the punch part of the punch buggy game, so there were no injuries involved.) We did it where you called out “punch buggie” and you had to name the color of the buggy.
All of those, I feel, were innocuous and/or fun.
What could be bad about an obsession?
An attempt should be made to limit many of them, in my opinion.
First, some obsessions are expensive. What if your child is obsession with going to Legoland, are you are, in actuality, going to Legoland every weekend?
Computer obsessions, in my opinion, should have time limits. Being on a computer for ten hours a day is just not healthy, not even for a writer!
We also didn’t let our son do the Pokemon Go craze. We felt it would be too hard on him to go around in the environment, with his head down and fixated on his phone, while trying to “catch” a Pokemon. We feared he might have a few bad interactions with folks out there who may not understand his behavior, as well as my son who may not understand the appropriateness of approaching a place or a person.
It was just too complicated for us.
Other obsessions are just as bad. You don’t want any child to get obsession with running into the street. (Imagine even having a child who is a “runner.” Now, that’s scary.)
On the whole, I think most obsessions are easily dealt with when mixed with some understanding, cultivation, and good sense.
Where other limitations have been needed?
One limitation we had to set was the volume our son used to call out “punch buggy.” He was saying “punch buggy, green“ so loudly in the car that he was scaring us. (And, we’re driving!)
Also, my son really does know how to take an obsession to the next level.
We were driving one time and we went past a car dealership. He said to me, “Mom, if you found a Chevrolet dealership, then Iʼd be able to find lots of punch buggies.”
Now, that’s the next level.
What can obsessions tell us about our kids?
I love how my sonʼs mind work. I love it that he comes up with that dealership request. How awesome is that? He takes the extreme, but in such a great way.
And, heʼs right! If we went to a Chevrolet dealership, we would find lots of punch buggies!
Obsessions can be fun and productive and…they could end up being the thing your child loves. It’s all about one obsession at a time. Obsessions can be fun.
More on Kimberly Kaplan:
To purchase “Two Years Autism Blogs Featured on ModernMom.com”
or “A Parentsʼ Guide to Early Autism Intervention” visit Amazon (print or digital) or Smashwords
LinkedIn: Kimberly Kaplan