Saturday, February 16, 2013


First of all, if you didn't read the title in your head the way that Prince says it here, please go back and re-read.

Thank you.

At work recently, I was whining about Anderson's elevator obsession, as I'm wont to do because ohmygod, elevators can get SO. DULL.  A friend made a comment that he gets a lot of "positive reinforcement" at home for playing elevators, so of course he continues to play the game.  Now, I didn't question any further because I like this person a lot, and I didn't want to get into a discussion about what she thinks I should and shouldn't be doing with Anderson. Believe it or not, I like to keep controversy away from work, especially when it comes to my kids. So...I made a quick comment about how I didn't mind that he plays elevators at all, just that I was a tad sick of the whole thing and ready for a new fixation, and we switched topics. It kind of stuck with me, though, because if she thinks it, then I'm sure others think it as well.

Here's where I stand on Anderson's fixations, which obviously are related to his autism. I don't mind them, and I don't mind supporting them.  They are part of who he is, and I stopped trying to change that a very long time ago.  Honestly, I'm ashamed to admit that I did try to change him.  When he was much younger--say, around 18 months old--he became a hand-flapper.  Of course, this is when I started thinking about autism, and like every other mother of a child with autism, at the time, I didn't want it to be true. So I tried to stop the behavior (thinking that would change the fact that he had autism? Obviously not very realistic, but when you're faced with something like this, reality isn't in the forefront of your mind. Trust me.).  He'd flap, and I would try to redirect him to something that might take his mind off of doing it.  I'd put a toy in his hand. I'd point something out to him. Or, in my darkest moments, I'd even scold him and tell him no. I am horrified now thinking about that, and ashamed.  He wasn't doing anything wrong, and I was telling him that what felt natural to him was in fact bad. I've forgiven myself, but still--not proud.

Here's the thing--playing with toys in a regular way doesn't interest him.  He's not going to sit down with a  paint brush and watercolors and paint a Toy Story picture.  He isn't going to go into the store and ask for a Spiderman toy, and come home and re-enact the cartoon.  To him, that is not fun.  What IS fun to him is playing elevators, albeit repeatedly, which does get a bit old.  He likes to look at how things move and work, and then take ordinary toys and turn them into moving machines.  He likes familiar routines, and playing the same game in the same way each day.  This is what makes him happy, and the one common thread that all mothers share, regardless of any disabilities that their children might have, is that they want to see their babies happy.  This is what makes him happy--and I am here to support it.

Does this mean that I don't want to help Anderson learn to function better in society? Absolutely not. I do believe in therapies to help him navigate life in a neurotypical world, mostly because I want him to be able to avoid the pain of other people's intolerance, but I have no interest in changing him--his personality and his likes and dislikes.  There's a difference there.

So, even though it does drive me crazy (but all kids drive their parents crazy sometimes...), we will continue to play elevators, and printers, and lawnmowers, and fans, and whatever other funky games our future has in store for us.  I mean, who could resist this face?

I so hope you left the Prince window open and listened to the whole song. I love that song--and that little short dude.  In fact, I think I'm going to add more Prince to my iPod right now...

Enjoy the long weekend, friends...

1 comment:

  1. Even as a mom to a "typical" kid I get annoyed at the lengths to which Emerson can LOVE something! And even though I am annoyed, I encourage him because HE loves it. Anderson is going to take you on a journey that you could never expect, and I think (knowing you), you will LOVE every crazy minute of it!