Turning Our Children’s Obsessions Into Their Strengths-Empowering Your Child and Yourself


Having autism means having some quirks. Some of these quirks have been sensory, such as Michael’s need to move around a lot to get a feeling of where his body is resting in space, (rocking, jumping), and some of it has been in repeating language or themes that gives him comfort and routine in a highly unpredictable and scary world, (reading the same stories, or eating the same type of snacks for weeks on end). And then there are the obsessions which I am beginning to see can lead Michael into a whole new dimension in his life, into a future career even. These two areas are his musical ability and his amazing sense of direction.

Yes, there is a downside. He will play (or attempt to) the same old songs on the guitar and will press the same button on the electric piano/keyboard that plays the same song over and over, and with his knowledge of streets and highways, will tell us exactly what directions to take to go somewhere and come home. I kid you not on his last one. We have had fights. “Mommy, why didn’t you turn right and take blank street home. Why did you take this way? I don’t like this way. It’s a bad way etc.” Both ways go home, but monsieur needed to be giving the orders. It’s funny and not. My husband and I have had to tell Michael more than once (and gotten an angry reaction, that we are the drivers and we decide where to go. Also, that he will decide when he drives one day.

We have been known to involve him in helping us plan our route as a family to a new destination now though. And myself being totally direction deficient, have used Michael’s navigation skills when we’ve gotten lost more than once together. He redirected me twice to two friends’ houses of his last summer. One time was really funny. He chastised me for taking the wrong direction on the highway. “Mommy, it’s east not west!” And rolled his eyes! But  he was patient when Mom got with the program. I still laugh about this incident today. Not surprisingly, several friends, one close friend in particular, has been encouraging me to promote Michael with his sense of direction. We show him Google maps, one set of grandparents bought him an interactive globe, and we are slowly trying to show him the control he can have since his sense of direction, by car or foot, is amazing. He can become a cartographer, a tour guide, a web designer. I am amazed, and remind myself again of his skills when he is being Mr. Backseat Driver.

So what is your child’ gift? What unique quirk or annoying habit do they have that you can work with as a parent? If you can’t think of theirs think of your own. I, for instance, like to talk a lot (too much), listen in on conversations in public places, and daydream. School was hard, but guess what I’ve found I’m good at. Customer service\Sales jobs and writing stories!To help our children go from exceptional kids to exceptional adults, we have to be willing to see the exceptional qualities in ourselves. So think about it ladies. What qualities make your exceptional? What qualities make your child/dren exceptional? When you find it, there’s no going back. Encourage them. When they see they are good at something, it will build confidence, happiness and future security, just like we have found if we’re lucky. Until next time.

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