We had a great NAS Derby Branch meeting this month with a lovely young man who talked about his experiences of his own Autism, about his life and his special interests or as we sometimes refer to them as obsessions.
I'm sure a lot of you will recognise the pictures above if you have someone special on the spectrum. They are my sons main interests at present, yes they can change but for now we practice a lot of fire safety with Fireman Sam and put the world to rights with Thomas and Friends.
At the meeting it was lovely to hear from someone first hand about what makes them like certain interests and how it makes them feel. As a parent I know we always want to find the secret recipe of how our kids tick and get a good insight into someone else's autistic world. It was fascinating to realise that having these interests is not a bad thing but can in fact be used to encourage some skills in communication and develop certain social skills too.
We discovered that most of the time especially at school we tend to send our kids into one of the big major social situations to face in life. It is the first real place apart from nursery and play centres that we actually venture out and be sociable and talk to other people. But what if you can't and find it extremely difficult? Then situations like these become unbearable and in some case impossible.
So what if the autistic world offered us a lifeline to make this easier and made people with autism feel relaxed, safe and secure? You would accept that wouldn't you? I have my own methods that I use to calm down and relax, it mainly involves popping my headphones on and listening to music. That's my happy place, that's where I feel the world can go on bustling about and I can free some space in my brain and just be transported into another place for a while. Then after that I'm ready to start again and bring myself back into the busy world again. It's our tools for recharging, some like to read, meditate, or be creative like drawing and baking.
I thought for a while at the age of sixteen that maybe it was time to stop buying Thomas and Friends magazines or stop buying Fireman Sam DVD's because they are not really age appropriate but who am I to decide that? Society does and that's why it seems a bit wrong but I'm not going to take away the things that make my son happy. Yes I can encourage him to spend less time on his interests and to engage in other activities now and again but these interests whether it be Minecraft, Lego, films, maps, music, or gaming are crucial to their lives and how they cope with situations.
I think in education there is a place for special interests to be used a lot, maybe limiting the time and using them in a constructive way and not destructive would be a way forward. Is it really a big deal if a child doesn't want to go out to play at break and lunchtime, playtime seems so last season now. For some yes they love to go and have a run round, chat and play games but for someone who has autism they can be using that time to let off steam in other ways, it could make their day and enable them to recharge and start a lessons. Nice thought eh?
Life is full of give and takes, well it should be so lets use that concept with autism. I spend time with my son and answer quizzes and Thomas and Friends, get put through my paces regarding fire safety even have a light sabre fight but I will always get some help with doing the dishes or other chores done if we divide our time between, what some may say, the boring stuff and the exciting stuff. It does get a bit repetitive and there maybe days when you don't want to 'Disney' but it does work. I have to remind myself to stop namby pambing (is that real?) to what every one else does and what the so called rules are in life and rebel a bit, make your own rules up and don't get stuck in society's boring old regime. Break away and have fun.
Anyway I'm going to break away now, thanks for reading and I will be back tomorrow with some TV chat on 'Pass the Remote Sunday'
Take care for now........
Every Saturday will be about Autism, family and life.