Tuesday, July 12, 2011

A Peek into the Mind of an Aspie

Sometimes I start to think our son with Asperger's Syndrome isn't any different than anyone else.
Sometimes I start to think he is just like any other kid.
Maybe it's not such a big deal after all.

But then often as it is, I am rudely awakened by some event or experience that makes me see once again how really different he is from what today's world considers "the norm".

Our son MJ, finishing up this year of school as a 6th grader, brought home all his final papers, artwork, folders, and other such things on the last day of school. Amongst these was a school journal in which he wrote in every morning for the year. I thought I might be entertained and was curious as to what he wrote about, so I sat down and opened up this little blue notebook.

At first it seemed very normal as the first page he wrote about his summer vacation and what he did and what he liked best. He wrote about what he was looking forward to this school year and what he expected out of school as a 6th grader. Pretty normal. He wrote decent enough that although his handwriting is still very very messy as it is still difficult for him to write, I could still make sense of it. His ideas and sentences were clear enough.

Then I turned to the next page.

This page was different. It was just ramblings on and on about some computer game I'm guessing and about all the levels and who or what had to be defeated.

OK, that's no big deal, but then I turned the next page and the next and the next and tried to read all his entries. They were all just massive explanations some pages and pages long of either computer functions, computer games, levels, characters to beat, etc. Then for a break the next several pages would be about every single kind of Pokemon character invented and all their powers or skills or whatever and it just went on and on and on.

These entries would have no real beginning or ending exactly. He would just go right into what he was describing, and then I'm assuming journal writing time at school would be over so he would stop, but then the next day he would start right up continuing where he left off the day before.

Out of the whole journal for the entire school year, there were maybe only 10 entries that didn't go on and on about the technicalities of a computer or Pokemon. These other entries were limited to maybe a couple of lines about how he was supposed to write about this topic, so he would for 2 sentences and then go right back to continuation of his explanations of whatever.

Of course there were about 4 entries that stood alone. These were what I call the emotional entries. If something had happened before school that upset MJ, these were the few times that he seemed to write normally to me, although they were very upset entries about how he was in trouble, or how I had yelled at him. (Oh, awful, I know! I about died when I read these entries about how I was a mean mom and had yelled at him or said this or that! Plus his teacher had read them and put little notes on the sides hoping he had a better day! I could have died of embarrassment! )

But really, how interesting this was for me to see a glimpse into the mind of MJ. I mean, yeah, I know he can go on and on about certain topics or be obsessed with Pokemon or some strategic game or whatever, but I didn't realize that these things are going on in his mind so much that it is like this whole computer database that is just spilling out onto paper.

Is it really like that all the time? Are all these thoughts, ideas and information just spinning around in an Aspie's head full time? It's overwhelming for me to think about it. It's interesting that his thoughts and obsessions can cease if there is an emotional event though. I do want to be a better mom though. No more journal entries about mean ornery moms in the morning for next year!


Sila said...

Being an aspie myself, I can probably safely say that yes, our obsessions/interests do fill our mind a majority of the day.. But as we get older, we learn to incorporate our interests into our daily lives in a "safe" or effective way. For instance, one of my main interests is art of all kinds. I love drawing, painting, listening to music, I tried to create some music, everything. But instead of just listening to music all day and thinking about different paint types and the different aspects of them, I draw. I draw as an emotional release, I draw for money occasionally on commission, I draw just for fun or to make others happy. I almost feel like I'm reaching out to the outside world by my art. :)

Encourage the special interests, incorporate them into activities to expand his horizons. If he likes pokemon, but won't do his homework because he wants to watch pokemon first (just an example... i went through this, hehe), then bargain with him- one hour of homework and you can watch 30 minutes of pokemon. x3

Troy said...

I find it interesting that you are surprised that his obsessions go on like this. Why wouldn't you think about things that you are interested in? Why are people so concerned with emotional issues that they can do nothing about? Why would he want to write more than two sentences about something that is boring?
Of course as you get older you realize that everyone has different interests, and most things can be incorporated into your interests. Like Sila said, if you can incorporate the interest into something else, it is much easier to focus on that.