Our son, X, is ten-years-old. He's a sweet boy who loves to give his family hugs. He's very protective of his little sister (S is 5-years-old) and always makes sure she's being taken care of. He normally doesn't like to be interrupted if he's focusing on something. But S can almost always ask him to help her reach something or set something up, and he rarely hesitates.
X has an amazing memory. The boy knows exactly where each and every movie is on our DVD shelf. He remembers the toys and songs he learned when he was two and where he was in the house at the time.
He enjoys helping me bake and cook. He likes to play outside, watch campfires in the backyard, and his favorite thing to do is swim.
X also has autism.
There are a variety of strengths and challenges that autism has brought into our lives. One of the more fascinating things is how he approaches his hobbies.
As a Baby
When X was a baby, he had a lot of toys he enjoyed. Most were ones he could spin, move back and forth, or put in some kind of an order. He crawled at a developmentally-appropriate time. But he had no desire to pull up or walk. When he was 10.5 months, we bought him this activity table. Do you see the alphabet printed on the bowl in the middle? As soon as he spotted the letters from a seated position, he pulled himself up for the first time. He was walking within a week or so after that. He often touched each letter in order with a single finger.
This was the beginning of his love of all things letters, numbers, and colors. He could order the alphabet correctly at the age of two, could accurately count to five at that point, and put anything with colors in the same color order.
Hobbies Changed with Age
X's hobbies changed through the years. He went through a period of time where he loved everything related to marbles or ball mazes. He'd spend literally two hours sending marbles down the chutes, watching to see where the paths took them.
He became interested in instruments. All instruments were great, but drums have become a favorite. We bought him his first junior drum set a little over two years ago and he's practically worn it out.
Have you seen the Animusic videos? Their most famous one, Pipe Dream, uses marbles to create music as they fall onto drums and different surfaces. X has set it up to where he drops marbles on different parts of his drum set to see what kinds of sounds they'd make.
Drums, Drums, Drums
Of all his hobbies, drums seem to be a long-term one. He's watched YouTube videos on how to properly set up his drum set. And the boy has some serious rhythm.
He tells us he wants to take drum lessons someday and when we ask what he wants to be when he grows up, he tells us "A drummer." Not just any drummer, though. He wants to be a drummer with the band TFK.
He's created drums out of Legos, plastic dishes, and just about anything else . He's also managed to collect drum sets ranging from electronic drums to miniature versions.
The Newest Hobby
When X received a LOGO Board Game as a gift from his uncle, aunt, and cousins, we had no idea he'd like it so much. He's always been fascinated with business logos, and this fueled that interest.
In the last year, he's saved his allowance and bought other versions of the game. These versions include The LOGO Board Game Second Edition, The LOGO Party Game, and both the travel and regular LOGO Board Game Drumond Edition.
He knows every card in those games. And each of them were bought for a reason. For example, The LOGO Board Game Drumond Edition is the only he has that includes the Shell Station logo.
There are way more LOGO Board Game versions out there than we knew. He has two more on his list to collect. He's planning on getting The LOGO Board Game Billionaire next month. And he's been searching for the German edition because it includes new logos in it (the Jumbo red elephant logo, specifically), and plans to get it in July.
We've got to hand it to him. When he has a hobby, he goes all in.
I've heard a lot of people refer to those with autism as having obsessions. And I can see where they might come to that conclusion. Don't get me wrong, they can have obsessions just like the rest of us. But most of the time, I think it's a matter of having a hobby and then putting all of their energy into learning everything they can about it.
That's exactly how X approaches his hobbies. I admire that about him. That's how someone eventually becomes an expert in their field: By focusing, learning all they can, and not giving up.
So he can continue to collect his LOGO Board Games and I'll happily listen to how excited he is to get the Billionaire edition next month (I'm certain he's told me all about it at least a dozen times this evening). I enjoy looking at the Shell Station or the Walkers card and talk about how neat it is, and compare the difference between it and other cards. Because this is what's important to him right now and he cares enough to share his interests with us.
Guess what? We located the German edition on eBay and ordered it tonight (it may take a month or more to get here). It may be his hobby, but come on! The game is coming directly from Germany. You've got to admit, that's pretty cool.