One of the major diagnostic criteria for an Autism Spectrum Disorder is a significant preoccupation with things/parts of things. This preoccupation is such that the child perseverates on it. They spend hours thinking about it, talking about it, doing something in relation to it. It encompasses nearly every part of their lives. It is, as I have often (semi-jokingly) described it, an unhealthy obsession. It becomes their weakness, the one thing that can break them even on the best of days.
For D, he cycles through a few obsessions. I have posted about his High School Musical obsession, but he is also obsessed with marching bands, and video games. Each of these can cause him to slip from developmentally appropriate play into a stage of obsession that is abnormal in both focus and intensity. However, the one thing that will, without a doubt, become his breaking point every single time is video games.
D loves video games. He has amazing skills when it comes to completing levels, learning the ins and outs to get the extra points, and when all else fails, his research skills are such that he can search the internet and find the answer to exactly what is causing him problems.
However, his world will come to a crashing halt every single time a video game enters.
He cannot handle the stress that comes with them. While he has the skills to play them, while he can do all that is required to beat each level, he gets so sucked in that he simply cannot meet adversity with assertive game play. Losing a life/dying in a level will send him into screaming tantrums. In his mind, that indicates failure, lack of perfection, on his part. In his mind, he must immediately reach the level of perfection in everything he does.
At his current placement, if they have met certain goals for the day, they are allowed to play the Nintendo DS for 30 minutes after shower time in the evenings. D is at a point where he meets those 2 goals almost daily. There are around 20 games to choose from for their game time, but there is only one game that D likes to play. Many, many times someone has chosen that game before him. Not getting the game he wants, for whatever reason, has generally sent him into hysterics. (Hysterics, in this case, is a tantrum of epic proportions. Raging, screaming, crying, aggression towards staff, the person who got the game, and any inanimate object in his way.)
Video games are his kryptonite. They are his Achilles heel.
After a major tantrum a few days ago, he made the conscious decision to say, “Ok, if he gets the game, I’ll just not play a game that night.”
Yesterday…Yesterday, he did just that! When I called to see how he was doing, he said, “Fine. But Mommy, I have to tell you something! I’m not playing the DS tonight. I’m not playing because someone else got my game I wanted to play. Since he got the game, I’m just going to eat popcorn and watch the movie tonight. I’m not going to have a tantrum!”
OH-EM-GEE!!! He was proud! He made the choice to do the right thing! He DID IT! (Hey Dora…HE DID IT! HE DID IT!)
And, not only was HE proud, but this was one proud Mama last night! I am still one proud Mama!
That’s MY boy!!! Thank you, God, for giving him that strength yesterday!!
Yeah, I know that it was one time. I know that he has to learn to do it again, and again, and again. I also know that HE DID IT ONE TIME!!!!!!!!!!