Saturday, April 28, 2007

evolution of an obsession

You folks will all remember when I talked about Jacob's obsession with signs. He recently demonstrated to me how something that used to be a totally static perseveration with him has evolved into something quite different.

Originally, he would obsessively read street signs. Wouldn't matter if we were paying attention or not, our car rides were pretty much Jacob in the back seat yelling out street names and exit numbers, and the rest of us chatting.

Last summer, as his desire to experience share with us grew, his sign obsession evolved to include us. Rather insistantly, as in SHOUTING at us to make sure we were paying attention, and not giving up until we acknowledged what he was saying. A suggestion from an RDI Program Certified Consultant at the Annual RDI Parent's Conference made a big difference for us and helped us turn it into more of an experience sharing moment. (See that same link from above to the post that talks about that.)

Now we can see the latest evolution of the sign obsession. The other day we were shopping at a local bulk warehouse type store. As we were waiting in line at the checkout, Jacob suddenly told me "when I get home, I'm going to draw a picture". I wondered out loud (with Zoo Boy) what he might draw about, but Jacob just grinned and said "you'll see. It's a secret!" When we got home, he ran for the magnadoodle and got straight to work and drew the above picture. He then came running to find me and show me what he drew, telling a narrative as he made sure I observed all that was to see in the picture. It went something like this:

"See here?" (pointing at the picture in the upper left corner of the screen, at the same time checking in with me -- referencing -- to make sure I was really looking) "That's an alarm. And see this?" (pointing at the picture in the upper right corner, referencing me again) "That's a sign that means 'do not'." I interjected, "do not what?" He gave me his full attention for a moment and said, dramatically, "do not stand there!" I wondered aloud what might happen if someone stood there, and he said "There would be fire! See?" (attention turned back towards his drawing, referencing me at the same time to make sure I'm following the storyline) "there's fire there, and there's a person who opened the door! It's a boy, he's running away." He confirmed that he saw a sign that made him think about drawing this scenario at the store we were just at.
When he finished his story, he immediately erased the picture and drew a new one (pictured left). It reads "DO NOT BLOCK FIRE EXIT". I just assumed and said "oh, you must have seen that one at the store today, too". He scowled at me (silly Mommy!), and said "no, I saw this sign at a McDonald's play area" (we hadn't been to one in over a week). Oh, I said, waiting for what came next. He didn't dissappoint me:
Here's the third and final drawing of the sequence, which reads "Emergency Exit Only - Push To Open". I noticed his "do not" sign again, but he told me that this time it means "do not open the door". I wondered aloud what would happen if someone opened the door, and he said that the alarm would go off (pointing to his picture of the alarm and making some impressive whooping noises) and it would be an emergency. He then told me that "everyone would run all over the store for all of 15 whole minutes until the alarm stopped." (He runs around with arms waving over his head to demonstrate.) He assured me that this was NOT at the same store we were at today, but at another store entirely.

So let's see, what have we got. Experience sharing. Referencing. Flexibility. Creativity. Episodic Memory (one thought reminds him of another experience of his that he wants to share).

Obsession? I don't think so any more. Special Interest? Yeah, I think that's closer to it. Something he wants to -- needs to even -- share with me, in pictures, story, and dramatic reenactment.

I'm not so bothered by the sign talk anymore....


At 8:17 PM, Blogger momof3feistykids said...

Hello! Another blogging mom recommended that I visit to read your posts about homeopathy (an avenue I am exploring). I have 3 kids. The oldest has mild Asperger's Syndrome and severe OCD. The middle child also has mild ASD traits and characteristics of ADD. He also has chronic intestinal problems. I enjoyed your 2 posts on homeopathy, and I am fascinated by your work with RDI, too. I am sure I'll be back. :-) Thank you for sharing your experiences.


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