How we used an obsession.

Without obsession, life is nothing.
John Waters
My gorgeous eldest son has been obsessed with cars of all descriptions for what seems like forever.  Like most parents who have a child with ASD, I had read all the books I could find and each of them said “use their obsession” but no one explained what this meant.

worlktopHow we used an obsession?

He lined the cars up, he slept with over 200 in his bed, he had photos of cars on a keyring to occupy him as we tried to go shopping; his idea of heaven was a day in the local car dealer and then coming home with the car brochures.  He could name any make/model of car from such an early age.
But again, we didn’t know how to tap into this obsession to “use” it.
Then one day, it hit me.
We were trying to teach him to count and getting him engaged made climbing Mount Everest seem like an easy option.
20121007-081733So I (to his utter horror) took his cars off the table and started counting them as I placed them back.  Once he realised that he got them back, he gave me that look that says “oh bless her, she needs some help” and allowed me to carry on.  Hearing him say “2” and then “4” as we put them back alternately was just fantastic.  One of those moments when you want to run and around and cheer loudly but have to carry on as those this is an everyday event.  Don’t you love/hate that?
Then we used his obsession to spell.  We obviously had to use words he liked but we alternated that with boring words like “the” “and” “he” and “no”.
We’ve used his cars to learn colours, shapes and now I eventually get what they mean by “use their obsession” but surely they could make it easier.
We’ve progressed hugely over the last few years and in a few weeks, it is his 8th birthday.  I asked him to write a list (on the ipad) of what he wanted and this is what I got back:
Not too sure he will be getting these (maybe some matchbox versions) but look at that spelling, isn’t it amazing for any 7 yr old?
We got here by using his obsession – how did you use your child’s?

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2 Responses

  1. great advice! Can see there’s loads of ways you can creatively use obsessions. We’ve heard of folk using them as rewards. Or ‘motivators’ in establishing PECS / AAC

  2. Not sure how I use it. But am laughing, because I think our boys would get on very well. My Sons birthday list would look very similar. And his perfect day out is Mercedes Benz world or a car showroom. I’m not quite sure how all his knowledge is going to help at high school

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