When special interest turn deadly

29 Jul

I like blogging, you like reading!

I’m a bit obsessed with twitter, shopping and art! You really love football and Facebook!

Admittedly some of us over indulge our sense with our interest, we spend a little to much time tweeting or playing a computer game when we could actually be doing something much more practical. However, we are fully aware of this naughty bit of pleasure seeking and therefore find ourselves eventually applying some self discipline. A good example of this would be a person needing to go to work, they may want to stay home engaging in whatever it is they love doing but they understand that this won’t pay the bills (that is unless the work is their interest)!

As some may already know, little man has very intense interests and these are what one would refer to as a “Special Interest” when I write about little mans interest I struggle to find the right words, especially ones powerful enough to create a visual picture in the readers mine. For these reason I often worry that those who have such little understanding of Aspergers Syndrome and special interest, may only ever really compare this to that of the above.


Today I’m going to try and change this by telling the story of my sons special interest! The intensity and love he holds for such a subject. The high intellectual knowledge which he has gained from self educating himself on every aspect this subject has to offer. The smiles & laughter it has created as well as the comfort and sanctuary it has given him.

Yet as great as the above may seem like everything there is a downside, and like most things associated with Aspergers Syndrome there is no in between!

The Little man happily unrolled the toilet roll around the entire house, he was making tracks for his invisible bus to drive along. Little man was that invisible bus. He could visualise this as long as he had one or two props to create a front and back to his bus. He would use a spoon held in one hand for the front, and a pencil in the other hand to create the back! Let’s not forget the sunglasses he would use to recreate the motion of the doors a long with the continuous beeping sound he would make. He would walk around and around for hours, speaking in a monotone voice as he recreated the destination announcements heard on both trains and buses.

I would feel a degree of anger when people stated a child like mine lacked imagination skills. This needed expanding on so those who had no idea began to gain a better understanding. Yes, little man played the same game over and over again. He was mimicking something based on fact not fiction, yet his creativity was seen when he used imagination to think outside the box. Rather than play with a toy bus, he was the bus! How many children would think to use a spoon, sunglasses and pencil in such a way?

From the age of around 2 Little man started to show an interest in transport. This started with Thomas the tank engine, but having quickly discovered the fiction that surrounds Thomas he turned his attention to the real deal. As he grew he would try to suppress his interest within the school setting making them much more intense once home. His great love for the subject meant it was hard to engage him in anything else. There were many sleepless nights, it’s easy to turn of your child’s computer and demand they go to bed, but I was unable to demand little man switched of his mind. He would go to bed and just lay in the darkness randomly running through bus and train timetables and destinations, often beeping and recreating the motion of the doors with his hands.

Despite the late nights, constant transport chat I embraced little mans interest! When he wasn’t allowed on school trips we had our own at the London transport museum. We took random bus rides around the city and went to toy fairs in search of old rare models. But when things become very bad at mainstream school I noticed Little man becoming completely lost in his world of transport, the only place he felt safe! When excluded from school he would sit studying the various routes of trains, tubes and buses, he would not answer when called totally ignoring request whenever I made them.

Bus trips were no longer fun, he’ll police the bus, demanding passengers picked up any rubbish they dropped or removed their feet from the seat in front of them. On trains he would jump from his seat every time the train came to a stop, pressing the button to open the doors for those passengers getting off and on.

I also noticed that he would continuously slide open and shut his wardrobe door that featured a sliding door. The banging was hard to cope with especially come 3am when siblings were sleeping.

What worried me more, was the more emotionally stressed things became, especially within school, the more he would confine himself to the bedroom where the slamming would commence.

We eventually had an appointment with his paediatrician, we were currently in the middle of a discrimination battle with school. I had now removed Little man from the mainstream setting but was still looking for a special school willing to take him. The stress upon the family was apparent. It was during this appointment that little man discovered that the windows within the paediatricians office were of the sliding type. Of course he couldn’t resist to play with them and for this reason the paediatrician was able to see just how obsessive his interest had become. She wisely informed me that this was not only due to his very intense special interest but also a stress reliever, coping mechanism. We also elstablised that to a certain degree the repetitive sliding motion of doors or hand mimicking was a sensory seeking behaviour too.

It was only on this appointment did we discover how serious this was. A practice fire drill went off, little man is very bad with the high pitched noise one makes. He panics and becomes very unpredictable so when he didnt even look up, just carried on with the window I knew Little mans special interest was now deadly!

A plan was put together and I was given the hardest task of my life, to reduce and limit the amount of time little man spends on his interest. OK, I couldn’t switch of his brain but I would need to limit the other activities, especially the sliding of the doors. It was hard to be consistent! In many ways I felt half to blame. I had encouraged his interest but this is what I was always expected to do, it was always said to be a good thing! I don’t feel guilty anymore. I now understand that it’s important to support and encourage your child’s interest, what happen to little man was not my fault.

As the stress faded, once he found his perfect school, things did start to return to a more acceptable level. Now he likes Lego too and even stranger WWE wrestling has actually become his interest of choice. Yes he still likes transport but WWE is his special interest and in my opinion it’s a welcome change after 10 years.


3 Responses to “When special interest turn deadly”

  1. Looking for Blue Sky August 2, 2012 at 7:30 am #

    Interesting post, and I wonder if others with autism generally would not react in the expected way to fire alarms?

  2. Mouse July 29, 2012 at 8:38 pm #

    Fascinating, and also very emotional from both your point of view, Little Man’s and the whole family. I flat-shared for a period of a time with a chap with Aspergers who had very strong special interests, and now having reading your account from someone who lives with it for years through thick and thin, think I understand it all a little better!


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