I know this sounds harsh, but surely I can’t be the only parent that has said this to themselves in their minds (hopefully never aloud!) at some point as they listen to their child go on and on about something, or ask “why?” for the umpteenth time.
If you have a child on the spectrum, chances are you are saying this to yourself a lot! You are completely familiar with the fixations that our kids get on random things. The facts that continuously spew from their mouths that charm all other adults within earshot but are making you once again want to run in the other room. How often can you listen to the same fact over and over? How often can you feign interest?
I’ve felt very guilty because honestly, I’m not so good at feigning these days. I do the exact opposite of what I try to teach Scout when I want him to be a good listener….I continue to surf or type away on my computer, or cut up vegetables in the kitchen, or just plain leave the room. It sounds terrible, I know, but honestly if I sat down and raptly listened to each and every fact about volcano eruptions or the kinds of dishes that were on the Titanic I would never get anything done.
It’s such a hard balance for me. We’ve gotten to where we’ll listen for a little bit and then politely tell Scout that we’ve heard enough. I know he needs to hear that–he needs to learn that NO ONE, not even his loving parents, can listen to that and be interested like he is. (maybe another Aspie, but then they’d probably have their own fixation and go on and on about THAT.) But then again, I am his parent and this is his thing. Shouldn’t I at least pretend to be interested?! It’s a tough balance to strike.
The interesting thing about Scout that seems different from a lot of Aspies I read about is that he doesn’t really have one specific fixation. He tends to spread it around. He’s had some fazes–the solar system (nothing like hearing, “Look Mom! That looks like Uranus!” being declared loudly at the grocery store), old coins, the Titanic, now volcanos–but one specific theme doesn’t seem to last long. He’ll go back and forth with them, which I guess is good. He just wants to be the expert about everything, I guess. This will probably serve him well someday, although I do hope he’s able to focus on something specific…but there I go again, worrying about the distant future. Day at a time, Suz, day at a time…
Meanwhile, I’ll go on smiling and trying to listen to The Facts. I’ll pop another happy pill and feign interest. Or I’ll tell Scout that I just can’t hear anymore for the next 5 minutes. And continue to be amazed by him and love the dickens out of him anyway.