My autism fact – The term “stimming” is short for self-stimulatory behavior and is sometimes also called “stereotypic” behavior. In a person with autism, stimming usually refers to specific behaviors that include hand- flapping, rocking, spinning, or repetition of words and phrases.
The Great Lego Debacle
When I decided on a theme for this year's autism blog hop, I had so many ideas for what to write, but as the day draws nearer I'm not so sure I know what to write about. We have a loose definition of toys in our house when it comes to our son, Matthew (20 today, ASD).
Take Lego for example.
When Matt has his birthdays he doesn't really tell us what he wants, apart from the time he decided he wanted a lego train set. He had this thing about objects going in circles, including train sets, ceiling fans, washing machines etc. We were so relieved to be able to buy something he wanted, spent so much money on the incredibly large Lego sets – electric trains, tracks, trees, extra switches, extra trucks… you name it and we bought it.
See, for Matt to show an interest in something for his birthday that was so… for want of a better word… normal… is a shock to the system. Boy, did he get what he wanted, and more. Two different train sets, both with motors, it was complicated to put together and I had the most perfect afternoon sitting with him and building the trains. I love Lego, grew up building things, and finally, I could share something with Matt that we both loved.
For a while the trains steadily went around the track.
Then Matt decided to see how fast he could make them go around bends. Yep. You can tell what happened. Destruction that made him happy.
And then… he took the trains apart and made ceiling fans from the pieces, sticking the lego to his ceiling in his bedroom.
I was bereft. Those beautiful trains, all that wonderfully coordinated lego, reduced to becoming ceiling fans. But you know what, that feeling lasted until I found him laying on his bed, staring up at the ceiling fans, stimming, and telling me all the technical details of the various fans.
He may not have *played* with the Lego as other kids might have done, but he made something magical with the pieces that made him smile.
And at the end of the day, that is all you need, because autism is sometimes all about changing expectation.
A Different Kind of Normal
It reminds me of the following story which helped me in my journey of coming to terms with having a child as special as Matt:
When you’re going to have a baby, it’s like planning a fabulous vacation trip – to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo ‘David’. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian.
IT’S ALL VERY EXCITING.
After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, “Welcome to Holland.”
“Holland?!” you say. “What do you mean Holland? I signed up for Italy! I’m supposed to be in Italy. All my life I’ve dreamed of going to Italy.”
But there’s been a change in the flight plan. They’ve landed in Holland and there you must stay. The important thing is that they haven’t taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It’s just a different place.
So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met. It’s just a different place. It’s slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you’ve been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around … and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills … and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.
But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy … and they’re all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say “Yes, that’s where I was supposed to go. That’s what I had planned.”
And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away … because the loss of that dream is a very, very significant loss.
But… if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn’t get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things … about Holland.
The Blog Hop
There are 45 authors taking part in the Autism Blog Hop – here is the link to the master list of everyone taking part – master list– every author is offering a competition prize, and will be posting unique posts based on the theme of childhood toys.
Comment below with your memories of childhood toys – what was the one thing you loved more than anything else? Competition closes 8th April midday, GMT (London)
- $20 Amazon Gift Card (or equivalent in your country)
- $20 Redbubble Gift Card
- A signed copy of Boy Banned (which includes a character on the Autistic Spectrum).
- A signed copy of Texas Family (which includes a character on the Autistic Spectrum).
Your comment may not show up immediately as, after several adverse comments on GLBT issues, and autism, I like to check comments before they go live 🙂