Quote of The Day

Today's QOTD is an amazing & fun discussion that I had the privilege to join, with the dope people over at: "ABA Inside Track".

"Special interests" are what we used to refer to as "obsessive interests/ritualized play/info dumping" or restrictive, repetitive interests or conversation topics.

If you are an ABA peep, or a caregiver of an Autistic, then you know exactly what I'm referring to. For non-Autistics, it can be hard to understand the intense interest (often to the exclusion of other important tasks and activities) in Toy Story, or Thomas the Tank Engine, or obscure 1970 bands, or construction sites, or objects that spin, or Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.

A unique special interest is an item, show, song, toy, etc., that sparks a very intense, and very elaborate fascination. If there is a toy or figurine, then ALL the figurines must be purchased. If there is a DVD or TV show, then the ENTIRE show must be watched, with 0 interruptions. If the interest is a place or location (such as a special interest of watching garbage trucks), then we MUST go watch the thing, at the place, right now.

There is an urgency to special interests that makes it difficult for teachers, therapists, caregivers, to transition the individual to other activities, or away from the special interest.

So how do we deal with this?

Well, the old way is to try to remove or lessen the fascination. To try to block or put away the interest, particularly if it isn't "age appropriate". To say "no, not right now", or "we're done with that", or "stop talking about that".

But is that the way we should approach this? Is that helpful or healthy, long term? And what does that say to the person with the special interest? Who may not cognitively understand why we CANNOT watch elevator videos on YouTube all day, every day.

Instead, let's talk about ways to include, embed, and incorporate special, unique interests into everyday life. Into instruction, into therapy, into school, into intervention. Think it can't be done?

Well, research would disagree with you. ;-)

Take a listen! This is good stuff.

ABA Inside Track Podcast, Episode 160

*Recommended Reading:

Autistic 'Obsessions' and Why We Really Need Them

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