Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Obsessions and Sound Effects

We've seen a LOT of stimming (self-stimulating behavior) and repetitive questions/comments (perseveration) lately from our son. (I'm not sure why.  Cabin fever? Winter break upsetting his routine? Growth spurt? A hex?  All of the above?)   Thankfully he doesn't hold his breath as he stims (some kids do that to the point of passing out), but he very frequently makes car crashing and/or traffic jam noises just for his own pleasure. (In fact, I had to ask him several years ago to NOT make those noises while I'm driving - hearing screeching tires and honking horns from the back seat was more than a little distracting.)  I heard him making his noises before he was out of bed this morning. When he was little, that's how we knew he was awake every morning - he'd stay in bed until we got him up, and he'd make sounds, endlessly creative sounds. We called him "our son Foley," as in a movie foley artist - he can recognize and imitate just about any sound.  It would be the perfect career for him.

Lately he's also "stuck" on vintage video game systems, and fire alarms. If he's not asking/telling me about obscure vintage system X or Q, he's asking/telling me about fire alarm systems.  His mind is just buzzing, and he has to talk about these things to everyone he meets.  The video games have been a fairly steady interest of his for several years now.  He discovered that there are many kindred spirits on YouTube who share their passion for video game systems.  YouTube is handy because he can see and hear the systems as often as we let him, even though he doesn't have many of his own.

He has a Gameboy Advance and a PS2.  We also have a Wii, a gift from my parents two Christmases ago, but to him it isn't cool the same way the old systems are.  Right now his favorite system is my old Atari.  Yes, I'm dating myself - it's an Atari 2600, I played it for hours when I was his age.  My parents had it and a bunch of games in storage at their house and unearthed it last year.  It was a little like meeting a friend from the past, and a bit like participating in an archaeological dig into my own life.  You'd think we'd given Safety Guy the treasures of King Tut!  Recently his Aunt Teresa gave him her old SuperNES system.  Oh, happiness!  Now our son wants a regular NES as well (they have one new-in-box down at one of the local game stores, and the games are easy to come by).  He bends my ear every day about the Sega Genesis, the Gizmondo, the Atari 5200, Coleco Vision, Odyssey, Vectrix (?), Gameboy Color, Gameboy Micro, the GameCube, and on and on and on.  He compares them, and critiques them, and gets into more detail than I ever wanted to know about ANY technological marvel.  My eyes glaze over when he starts talking about them.  I am glad there are other people out there who are more than willing to talk to him about his hobby, because I am very very very very tired of hearing about it.  I politely listen and comment for as long as I can, then I have to gently tell him, "Honey, I'm just not as into this as you are.  Can we take a break from this topic for a while?"  (Translation:  "If I have to listen to you talk about the minutiae of game systems for one more minute my head is going to implode!")

He also wants to install and test fire alarms in our basement.  Again, there are many guys (and they're all guys, and I'd bet you $$$$$ that most of them have Aspergers and/or OCD) who share their interest in fire alarms and collections of fire alarms on YouTube.  He tried to talk us into letting him buy and install a fire alarm system in our basement so he could test it whenever he wanted.  He didn't understand what I meant at first when I asked him if he really thought the rest of us would like to listen to him test those systems in the house.   He had to think about my question for a minute:  "But why not,  I think they're coo- oh, wait. Yeah. Oh. Oh, I get it."  Yep, son of mine, I'm not going to live in a fire alarm test facility that also serves as an arcade for vintage game systems and a crash test simulation practice center, even if it IS your special genius to love these things. . . .


  1. While I totally understand that mothering this boy takes a wealth of patience on your part, I have to say that I find his "obsessions" quite charming! Brian is furious with himself for selling his old atari system and jillions of games at a garage sale for $50! Also, I found with my own boys, that making inarticulate noise was a major phase they went through. (in fact, it still happens frequently) Something about boys and noise, I guess.

  2. I know boys and noise go together like puppies and chewing. I don't mind it, and I actually like it because it's a reliable gauge of his mood. More noises = better mood. And I'm not bothered by his obsessions, really - it's just that they can get a bit "old" to me because I hear about them so often. I'm glad his interests can fall within the broad range of "normal" for boys his age. Thank goodness he's not interested in something totally strange and off the wall, or even worse.

    I'll be keeping an eye out for old game systems at garage sales this summer. If that NES is still at the game store this fall, I'd love to get it for his birthday.

  3. It's so funny how we can have kids on the autism spectrum and they can be co completely different. I was laughing and laughing at your son's love of fire alarm systems & desire to install them in the house. Also the car crash noises from the back seat. Your son is such a classic aspie, so different from my son (whose biggest challenge is language processing).

    And yet they also have things in common. My son also repeats phrases and noises and scripts from TV/movies. A lot. And it became problematic last week when he INSISTED on yelling "Help!" for no reason (other than Scooby had done it that morning on the TV) while swimming at a public pool.

    That combined with his normal swimming mode having no form and LOOKING like flailing/struggling while actually being perfectly functional (he can spend HOURS in swimming in the deep end and not tire, using his flail) had me spending the whole time convincing the skeptical lifeguards to NOT rescue him, that he was OK. Sigh.

    Thanks for linking up with Blog Gems and making me laugh today!