Ideas from “Uniquely Human” by Dr. Barry Prizant
We have always thought about obsessions of persons with autism as “enthusiasms.”
If something truly grips her attention, we seek ways to steer her interests in a way that would help her.
Perhaps focusing on one topic gives the child a sense of control, predictability and security in a world that can be unpredictable and feel scary.
Discouraging an enthusiasm can be just another way of dismantling a strategy that helps a child with autism feel better regulated – or worse, removing a source of interest and joy.
We can use the enthusiasm as a way to expand the child’s outlook and improve the child’s life.
Why do people with autism develop enthusiasms? Why do people take comfort in hobbies, passions and collections? Nearly everyone has passions and interests. They fill a need; give us pleasure and make us feel good.
When a person with autism develops an interest, we must assume that the particular subject of the interest is a good match for that person’s neurophysiology and serves and important function.
As many as 15% of those with autism demonstrate these high-level natural talents or gifts, known as savant skills, but most do not. Many others have “splinter skills” – strengths, such as rote memory or artistic talent, that stand out relative to their overall profile.
Many people with autism find it helpful to bring a toy or other item or an activity related to an enthusiasm to settings that may pose difficulties, such as restaurants, family events or larger gatherings at school.
It is helpful to find what interests a child and offer that to him or her at challenging times.
Grayson – Letters, Numbers and the Tablet
Grayson is rarely without a tablet or iPad in his hand. He is enthusiastic about educational videos. Thus, he easily identifies rhomboids and knows the color of indigo. He has learned simple three-letter words by sight and can count to 100.
Where will this enthusiasm lead him? We don’t know. Stacy Busch, the woman who provides the beautiful pictures for my blog, will begin teaching him piano lessons. I would love to help him learn more about the computer, since he has such an interest in the iPad.
One concern for all parents of autistic persons is that they learn how to live independent and self-sufficient lives. My prayer for Grayson and others like him is that they reach a place where they can care for themselves possibly by taking advantage of their “enthusiasm.”
Prayer for Thursday, February 8, 2018
Dear God, please help all on the autism spectrum reach a place of independence and self-sufficiency.