Don’t let your Aspergers child’s passion consume them. But how?

Everyone that we’ve met with Aspergers (including us) has some special interest. Something that they are hyperfocused on, and can talk for hours, if not days straight about. We’ve seen everything from lightning, to birds, to journalism and how things work. This fixation is one of the best abilities that one can have…. if you use it right.

The trick is to foster the passion into something that SERVES rather than consumes.

How?

Well, we recently did a webinar with someone well versed in the area of nurturing individual passion, and during that time, we talked all about that. You can watch the recording below:

Don’t have time to watch? Here’s the breakdown:

  • Make sure to encourage whatever it is that are interested in (assuming it isn’t violent and destructive).
  • Seek out a mentor in the field who has a career in the field they are interested in
  • Let them read and understand even MORE about their chosen subject
  • See if you can find an unpaid internship, volunteer opportunity, or something like that.

Of course, we talk a lot more in depth on the webinar, and even answer some questions about how to do this as a parent. Enjoy!

3 thoughts on “Don’t let your Aspergers child’s passion consume them. But how?

  1. So this is what the shrink meant.

    I haven’t watched the video yet (I’m at work, but I’ve saved it to my Youtube “watch later”), but I’m already really close to 3/4 of your bullet points with my son, who’s 8.

    See, my son is keenly interested in video games, especially Minecraft. About a week or two ago, I managed to extract a response from him about what he wants to do when he grows up – he wants “to be a programmer like Notch”. He has already started on this path, doing stuff with command blocks and code.org through school.

    And while I’ve recently bought some books on programming geared to kids from Amazon.com, it’s worth noting that I *am* his best mentor. I work as a unix systems administrator at an ISP, and I occasionally do a little coding myself. There’s already a few books on programming in our bookshelf. It’s just that right at the moment, they’re still a little advanced for him, in spite of the fact that he’s easily at a grade 5 or 6 reading level.

    He’s also way too young to be working as an intern somewhere, but I’m sure that it won’t be too many years before he’s working on some open source project.

    His psychiatrist says that the parents that are the best with AS kids tend to be a little on the spectrum themselves. This is actually extremely common in the IT and programming fields, and I’m sure you can imagine why. It doesn’t hurt that I was never expecting him to be a football star in the first place, I suppose. ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. I am a mom with undiagnosed AS raising a child with AS. We’re a team and I am so blessed to feel like I actually understand her. No one understood my special interests growing up and how absolutely important they were to me, like finding the corner pieces of a puzzle I could wrap the whole picture of life around. They helped it all make sense to me and made me feel safe to be human.

    So I don’t want her to have all the problems I had growing up. I make it a point to absolutely nurture her special interests! Right now it’s cars. I have taken her to car shows, read books about car engines, bought her hot wheels versions of her favorite makes and models, done model car assembly with her, watched car remodeling reality shows, and studied about automotive history together. We learned a lot! There is nothing bad at all about this, parents need to learn to enjoy and take an interest in their AS kid’s special interests, and to validate them instead of making them seem obsessive. They are obsessive because we are desperately seeking engagement, this is the only way sometimes that we know how to connect with others. We want people to like our interest as much as we do, then it’s like we’ve discovered a secret language and feel understood. Once they feel understood and supported in their interest they won’t be so perseverating about it. It’s hard to explain how absolutely EXHILARATING this is and it is to me, one of the most special “superpowers” of AS. We have the kind of absolute focused, unalloyed dedication to a topic that is needed to make scientific discoveries, technological breakthroughs, write novels, or develop new products. If it makes us a little “weird” in the process, so be it! I’ll take that.

    If a child’s special interest goes haywire, as my daughter’s still does sometimes, that may be a sign of anxiety, or even a comorbid dx like OCD (like my daughter) flaring up. That can be challenging but I find that as long as I take the interest seriously and help her pursue it, that excessive panic about it passes.

    In the past I helped her with special interests in other ways. When she was about 7 (she’s 10 now) through 8 she was obsessed with Monster High. Everything was Monster High! She drew amazing fan art too, it was really good. So I went to a great deal of effort to find and contact their conceptual designer, after Mattel was really curt and not so friendly in their response to my letter. I wanted her to get a response for her interest. That is so important to her and I couldn’t give it to her the way I knew she needed. I FINALLY found the designer on facebook and friended him. I wrote to him and explained that my daughter has Aspergers and her special interest is Monster High, and it’s her entire life. He was so nice! He wrote back and said he wasn’t allowed to “like” her art because of his contract, but I won’t go into details, but he did communicate with her… gave her encouragement and appreciation for her art and gave her that rock star response I knew she’d be thrilled by. It made all the difference! Experiences like that are so validating for us! We all like meeting movie stars and people we look up to, but for my daughter, that kind of person could be a car salesperson or a toy concept designer… it’s not like she cares if they are celebrities, they’re rock stars to her!

    My daughter has an interest in cartoons, comics and animation as well. I have enrolled her in an animation class, done comics with her, and bought her books on manga and drawing chibi and kawai art. She loves art and design in general, and so I got her Adobe Creative Suite, I sweet talked them into letting us get a student edition very cheaply. I even got disability services in my state to reimburse for it as an educational expense. She is a WHIZ with digital design, I was so amazed! She may have trouble with social situations and emotional regulation and what not, but she can rock out the Bezier curves and filters, can lecture anyone about the difference between pixel and vector art, and totally relates to the complex digital interface like it’s a friend. In fact, she hates math, and the way I was able to teach her math was through Schoolhouse Rock cartoons, and understanding the importance of using math calculations to create digital art on Illustrator!

    I’m fully anticipating that she may choose to go straight to some kind of design career instead of going to college, and I support that too if she wants it! Her dream in life is to be an automotive designer… more power to her! ๐Ÿ™‚

    She has an interest in fashion; we worked on a fashion blog together. It never really took off, but it was fun to try it out.

    In short… don’t expect school to understand or nurture your AS kid’s special interests, their job is to provide a well rounded education. Well, a lot of us with AS are not interested in that and that doesn’t really showcase our skills and talents. Let them specialize at home, and try to learn something while you’re at it… even something boring like doorknobs or train schedules might be fascinating if you understand why it fascinates them. I loved maps and flags as a kid and no one bothered to ask me why. To this day I still love maps and can lose myself examining them. Some people’s idea of fun is hanging out at a bar drinking with friends, which sounds like hell to me. But I can get very excited about examining a map and daydreaming about what the different areas look like in real life, the history and language, etc. So it’s not just some random thing I’m doing out of a compulsion, although it is compulsive. Ask your kids why they like their interest and they may surprise you. It may actually be interesting!!

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