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Archive for May, 2014

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Anthony: What is it about learning about things like astronomy, mass extinction and the Big Bang theory, things that are so complex and have so much detail, that interests your brain and keeps you digging for more?

Awesome 13 year old with Aspergers (ATWA): Umm. Often it’s because…to my brain that stuff just makes sense and I relate them (pieces of new information) to things…it clicks and when I start clicking i want to keep clicking and it (my brain) keeps relating more and more. Though, in astronomy…mostly in astronomy, but this applies to a lot of areas, this stuff’s fascinating and it’s beautiful. Einstein said, ‘the most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious’ which… astronomy is very mysterious.

Anthony:So when you said “things start clicking” for you, that makes me think you’re saying things just start making sense. And then you want more and more clicks.

ATWA: coming together…

Anthony: You just said “coming together”. What do you mean?

ATWA: I just want to keep building the thing that’s coming together, making it bigger and bigger. It turns into everything and how everything is.

Anthony: that’s the best explanation I’ve heard.

The short snippet of a longer conversation occurred recently as I was walking with a brilliant young man with Aspergers. He shared this insight into his brain and why he pursues to such great detail on specific topics of interest. I particularly like the concept of “clicks” and just wanting more “clicking”. When you think about ASD, it’s the lack of clicking that is so often described. The misinterpretation of cues, the sensory over/under-stimulation, the misunderstanding of expectations and what’s coming next. In this context, it makes all the more sense that this boy would want to keep moving towards the clicking. It feels good/correct, like things “coming together”.

I was so intrigued by this answer that I later shared it with another boy, 11 years old, with Aspergers. He immediately smiled and said, “Yeah… The same for me…I think about it (his love for radioactive material) like a puzzle and I’m putting the pieces together as I find them”. He also shared the idea that amassing this specific knowledge helps him relate it to other things in the world.

I’m going to keep asking.

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power struggle

It is important to allow your child to be curious, even if it means you have to slow down and let them look in the windows every other block. Be patient (you’re grimmacing as you read this i’m sure. Easier said than done. Youre right, but keep reading). Join them in their curiosity (“that girl on the rock wall is climbing really high…I bet you’d love to do that”). Then gently make a transition statement like,” I’m getting tired…I can’t wait to get back to the office/home and get some cold water”. This suggestion is not a demand. It’s not a statement that will make a child feel forced to switch more quickly than they’re comfortable with (“Come on. Let’s go”) or disregard your directive. It’s sometimes just enough to get them to listen, perspective take, and hopefully move on. It’s likely they would do this anyway after getting bored of whatever initially drew them in.”Sometimes” is the operative word here. I’m not claiming this as an absolute solution. As you all know, nothing is. Even things that work today may not work tomorrow or mayber even that evening. I’m simply saying that language matters and it’s worth reflecting on the way you use it with your child.

What I see often happens is that a demanding statement like, “Come on. Let’s go”, turns into a power struggle. As a parent, you have now made a statement, which if not listened to, requires you to at very least restate and at most enforce. At this point, your child, especially those children who feel the need to take control at all costs, has the opportunity to disobey (ignore, say “no”). Why put yourself in this position? Why open the opportunity for a power struggle? Choose your language wisely and you will find that you frequently avoid power struggling and invariably help your child develop more of an ability to empathize, take perspective, and cooperate.

Here is an interesting article about the power of word choice with kids: http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2014/04/30/308045913/to-get-help-from-a-little-kid-ask-the-right-way

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