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kattoo13
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06 Mar 2008, 9:34 am

When my 8 year old son gets hooked on a topic of interest, it's all he talks about. He will repeat the same questions over and over and often interrupts conversation to speak about it.

His psychologist suggested I designate times of the day where he is allowed to speak about his obsessions, in hopes that this will open up his mind to other things. I have tried this, it doesn't work.

I am interested in what he has to say, but how do I let him know its not necessary to repeat himself without hurting his feelings?



Nan
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06 Mar 2008, 10:59 am

kattoo13 wrote:
When my 8 year old son gets hooked on a topic of interest, it's all he talks about. He will repeat the same questions over and over and often interrupts conversation to speak about it.

His psychologist suggested I designate times of the day where he is allowed to speak about his obsessions, in hopes that this will open up his mind to other things. I have tried this, it doesn't work.

I am interested in what he has to say, but how do I let him know its not necessary to repeat himself without hurting his feelings?


I'd just let him talk. My daughter, bless her, has always done the same thing. As did I. One thing that appears to be common to Aspies is that we become obsessed with certain topics. That's just the way we are, really. If you listen to him, you're letting him know you are interested. If you don't listen, he knows you are not. If he's telling you about the various types of subway turnstiles for the umpteenth time, he needs to tell you about them. Unless you just cannot stand it anymore, I'd just listen. When he's older you can point out that a lot of people don't particularly enjoy hearing about the same thing over and over, but that's something to do when he's older than eight years old.

You know, it may not just be that he's wanting to talk about the subject. I've noticed that, in our household, it's that we are trying to connect. We are trying to have a conversation with each other - we are bonding, in a sense. So, when my daughter talks about her green and black striped socks that she wants to buy from an online store for the fifteenth time in two days, I know it's not about the socks. It's about listening, affirming, maybe a snuggle. We're going through the "I talk you listen, you talk I listen" "I'm here for you" motions. Possibly your son could be doing the same, without realizing it? Or that "socks are cool, I've got this right, yes, it's ok to think that socks are cool!" And by listening I'm telling her "yeah, your feelings are valid." Aspies do tend to like precision. And if it was her expertise on subway turnstiles, she was getting to feel the expert, getting to turn that around, over, inside-out, explore it. Sorry I can't be more clear on that. It's like rehearsal, like learning the script. The catch is, you have to know when you can rehearse. That's, possibly, something your son hasn't "gotten" yet - he'll eventually need to learn when it's socially acceptable to rehearse, to practice being right.

Or is it that you really are just tired of hearing of subway turnstiles and don't want to be bothered with it anymore? Your "not necessary to repeat himself without hurting his feelings" could also be construed as "I'm sick to death of hearing about it but don't want to appear to be a butthead to anyone by saying anything to him that would upset him". (No offense intended, but it is often difficult to distill precisely what it is people mean when you don't know them and it's only in print, with no vocal inflections.) If that's the case, there's not a lot you can do other than just say "we've talked about this before, it does not interest me, I'm glad you like it" and then not being an audience. That will most likely cause your child distress, though.

If it were me, I'd just keep listening.



kattoo13
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06 Mar 2008, 11:19 am

Thanks for the reply. I always listen to my son when he has something to say. It's also not my concern if somebody thinks I'm a "butt head" for being honest. My point is, it is important that my son learn certain social skills. One being, conversation involves two people. Not in the sense that just one person talks and the other person listens..but more so, there is a give and take. When people have conversations they take turns speaking and listening. I also want him to understand that there are many things to talk about, besides the current obsession. This is what I meant when I mentioned opening up his mind to other interests.

All of this is important not only now, but when he becomes an adult. This also comes into play when he is dealing with peers his own age. For example he could walk up to a friend and just talk and talk and talk, but not pick up on the social cue that his friend may want to get a word in, or perhaps talk about something else.

This isn't about me wanting to deprive my son of his interests, or change who he is as a person. I love him with all of my heart (in fact he gets annoyed by the hundreds of kisses and hugs I give him every day, but we joke about it). This is about teaching him social skills that will benefit him throughout his life.



Nan
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06 Mar 2008, 11:39 am

kattoo13 wrote:
Thanks for the reply. I always listen to my son when he has something to say. It's also not my concern if somebody thinks I'm a "butt head" for being honest. My point is, it is important that my son learn certain social skills. One being, conversation involves two people. Not in the sense that just one person talks and the other person listens..but more so, there is a give and take. When people have conversations they take turns speaking and listening. I also want him to understand that there are many things to talk about, besides the current obsession. This is what I meant when I mentioned opening up his mind to other interests.

All of this is important not only now, but when he becomes an adult. This also comes into play when he is dealing with peers his own age. For example he could walk up to a friend and just talk and talk and talk, but not pick up on the social cue that his friend may want to get a word in, or perhaps talk about something else.

This isn't about me wanting to deprive my son of his interests, or change who he is as a person. I love him with all of my heart (in fact he gets annoyed by the hundreds of kisses and hugs I give him every day, but we joke about it). This is about teaching him social skills that will benefit him throughout his life.




He is Aspie. There are ways of being that are Aspie that can be modified, but the underlieing personality is still there as are the traits. Obsessions are very common for us. They may be a one-time (that is, he may love subway turnstiles all his life) or sequential (I had, as a child, a sequential fascination with Greek Mythology, nuclear power, dinosaurs, shoe polish, toilets, cats, trees, astronomy, genetics, Julia Child, rocks.... and on and on. Each was tremendously deep and intense, and lasted for weeks and weeks - months, in some cases). You can't pry his mind open. He'll go there if and when he wants to go. All you can do is, oh, maybe leave some cool books (if he's a reader) about something else around. What you'll likely find, though, is that he then gets an obsession about the new thing and you'll be sick to death of that soon, too! It's the nature of the beast. On the good side, we make some of the very best researchers known.


Yes, to get along more as a NT in a world full of them, he will have to learn the "NT" rules. But he's also only 8 years old. You can work with him on conversational skills, but trying to deflect an Aspie from a fascination isn't going to probably be the most productive avenue you can take at present. He may not be ready yet. Still, you might make a game of it, the give and take thing that you want from him. Make up the rules, let him make up some of them. We tend to be concrete thinkers, especially when young, so "either/or" options are way better than open-ended options. That is, "if you are in this situation, would you do thing A or thing B" and then reinforce when he says the answer that you want. Do not reinforce wrong answers - that is, if he picks A and you really want to hear B, say "try again" and when he says the "B" thing, you say "that's right!".... Don't make it a heavy scene, make it a game. Start out by giving him some really outlandish behavior as A, and the one you want to hear as B. Make "A" something you are sure he can identify as the "wrong" answer. Give him a chance to be "right". Then, later on, you can move into "let's practice the stuff from our game." It might work - did for me and my daughter, but I wasn't trying to deflect her from anything, only to help her learn the ropes of getting along a bit.

On the friends thing. Yeah, the obsessions and the talking style can get in the way. Little kids are by nature egotistical to the max. They all have to learn certain rules, the NTs and the Aspies of the world. Your son just may not pick up the signals that other people (other kids) give him. It will be painful for him to have to learn that the hard way, yet that may be the only way he does really learn it all. It will be hard for you to watch.

On the hugs and kisses bit. Many of us are uncomfortable with touch, especially from another person (even mom). I'm not quite up on 8 year old boys, but I do know that just about every 9 year old boy I've ever seen, NT and Aspie, has done everything he could to keep from having mom hug and kiss him excessively. (That's sissy stuff, and quite socially damaging, I understand :wink: ) Maybe mom is going to have to learn to back way the heck off, very soon.

Good luck!



Last edited by Nan on 06 Mar 2008, 11:47 am, edited 1 time in total.

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06 Mar 2008, 11:46 am

One other thought. Consistency is important to any kid, but especially to us. "The Rules" have to always be the rules. They can't change. They can't be bent. Especially when one is young. It can't be "ok" for one set of behaviors one day and "not ok" on the next. That just causes all sorts of chaos.... Good luck!



kattoo13
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06 Mar 2008, 11:47 am

my son had a few of the interests you listed..dinosaurs and mythology. those lasted several months. he could be a tour guide at our natural history museum.

my son is actually pretty affectionate ie he holds my hand, hugs me etc. when he gets annoyed with me hugging him, he jokes about it. it's the same thing i've seen with many NT kids, when their parents hug too much for their taste lol

i just ordered this video on conversational cues.

http://modelmekids.com/aspergers.html

my son is also in a social skills group at school. i know he'll have to learn some things the "hard way." i am just sort of prepping him for the NT world....no harm in that.



Nan
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06 Mar 2008, 11:50 am

kattoo13 wrote:
my son had a few of the interests you listed..dinosaurs and mythology. those lasted several months. he could be a tour guide at our natural history museum.

my son is actually pretty affectionate ie he holds my hand, hugs me etc. when he gets annoyed with me hugging him, he jokes about it. it's the same thing i've seen with many NT kids, when their parents hug too much for their taste lol

i just ordered this video on conversational cues.

http://modelmekids.com/aspergers.html

my son is also in a social skills group at school. i know he'll have to learn some things the "hard way." i am just sort of prepping him for the NT world....no harm in that.


No, no harm in that at all. It could be quite helpful. Learning the hard way does tend to make one learn the lessons very well, but I certainly wouldn't recommend that route if there are any alternates available. This may or may not apply across the spectrum, but I know that we had tremendous difficulty pulling thing off of tv or books and considering them "real". I'm not quite sure how to explain this. But practicing in person worked entirely better than watching something on tv or reading about it. Those things are in the "not real, file as notreal" realm, even if the info was identical to what we got "one-on-one". TV is not real. Things we see on TV are not real. They do not apply in real life. (I hope you can sort that out, as I've not had my coffee yet....) Watching other kids do things didn't apply. They were "others", not "us". We could see it, we could identify it and recite it back on cue, but it wasn't added to the mindset.

Good luck.



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06 Mar 2008, 12:37 pm

/derail

[quote]You know, it may not just be that he's wanting to talk about the subject. I've noticed that, in our household, it's that we are trying to connect. We are trying to have a conversation with each other - we are bonding, in a sense.
...
I know it's not about the socks. It's about listening, affirming, maybe a snuggle. We're going through the "I talk you listen, you talk I listen" "I'm here for you" motions.
...
Or that "socks are cool, I've got this right, yes, it's ok to think that socks are cool!" And by listening I'm telling her "yeah, your feelings are valid." [quote]

OMG that is sooooooo true. that is the best explination i've heard, ever.



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06 Mar 2008, 5:11 pm

One little piece of advice, Kattoo. Don't "force" the social skills on him. He'll resist because he won't see the need for them. I'd be looking at ways to incorporate the interests into the social skills if that's a concern. I don't know enough about the subjects it appears he is interested in to make any specific suggestions.



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06 Mar 2008, 5:15 pm

Nan wrote:
I'd just let him talk.
i agree, theres really nothing that important to change the way your aspergers son behaves just to have a conversation with him


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07 Mar 2008, 6:30 am

Yeah see, by trying to get him to do things, NOW, the way "normal" people do them( I, of course, refer to socializing, of course), that may give him the indication of REJECTION of him. It's almost like hearing "no one really cares what you have to say- it's not important"; I assure you, resentment WILL follow later on. If you want to connect with him, learn a little about that, so you can discuss it with him- and hey, even try adding some other fun things into the discussion. That way, you can teach him a LITTLE bit about "normal" socialization, but do it in a way that'll ease him in, and maybe find it a bit more accepting.

In fact, one thought one of my counselors came up with, regarding my action figure collecting as a child, was that the reason they grew on me so much was that "unlike people, action figures couldn't- and wouldn't- reject you. They were there for you, no matter what". So so true.


and here's a little suggestion, that I've learned from experience, cause I really hate it when people do this:

do not- I repeat- DO NOT respond to everything he says with "oh yeah?". I've been hearing that from people for all my life. What it REALLY means is "I don't care", and to be perfectly honest, even someone as socially clueless as myself can pick up on that. And when I can, that says something right there.

In fact, I do something similar, but I use a different codeword, and I still try to show SOME interest at the same time- I say "nice". Since everyone else always says "oh yeah?", no one is any the wiser.

Believe me- if ya show people ya don't care, they'll know. With people with AS, they'll figure it out- and resent it...and maybe even resent you FOR it. Eventually, they might even just metaphorically "push you out" of their lives...