If it is Wednesday, it must be time to take a look back at last night’s episode of Parenthood on NBC. I’m just happy I do not have to wait until Thursday to write this, since Amber shocked me for the second straight week and stayed awake the whole time.
Last night, part of the episode was devoted specifically to Max and his obsession with the lack of a vending machine at his school. Apparently, in past years, there was a vending machine in the hallway, where students could get a snack (for Max, Skittles) anytime of the day, except for “during class” as Max pointed out.
When he realizes that the vending machine has been removed, Max is set off. You could see the meltdown coming, and it was not pretty. Having the vending machine put back becomes Max’s sole focus throughout the entire episode. At various points during the episode, Max is shown talking endlessly about the lack of a vending machine; in school to random people, at home while his friend is over, to his cousin when she picks him up from school (a whole different issue with an unexpected change to his routine), and to his dad. As the episode concludes, Max decides the best way to get the vending machine back is for him to run for student government president. I cannot wait to see how this develops as the season continues.
I noticed a lot of similarities between Max and Kaitlyn during last night’s episode. No, she does not have an obsession with Skittles, although she does enjoy them. The similarities I saw were with the pure obsession with one topic in particular, an obsession that was so intense that it became the sole focus of Max. Kaitlyn does that. Frequently.
For the past month or so, her obsession has been Rainbow Magic books. All she wants to do is read those books. The series is all that she wants to talk about. She thinks she is getting a new book every week. She expects us to be experts on each fairy, and will quiz us at different times. Right now, there is nothing else that she will even remotely concern herself with for more than a very short period of time. She either does not realize or does not care that not everybody shares her interest in or her level of expertise about the series. I am happy and excited that she is so in to reading the books, and I have no desire to tell her she cannot read them. On the contrary, we are going to continue to encourage her to read the series and expand her reading abilities (the series is generally written for students above her grade level).
The ability to focus so intently on one subject area that those with Asperger’s have is unreal. Yes, it can be frustrating to people who do not interact with them daily, and occasionally frustrate people who see them daily. But, it is also something to be admired. How often do we sit around and get distracted? For the most part, a neurotypical person is kind of like a cat that gets distracted by a shiny object. Aspies have the ability to have a laser-like focus on one thing in particular, and will become subject matter experts in short order if allowed to pursue said obsession. The difficulty comes from convincing Kaitlyn that it is ok to diversify; her Rainbow Magic books will not get jealous if she spends time playing with her Barbies (to be fair, I have seen her reading to her Barbies and her stuffed animals).
While people with Asperger’s often share a large set of similar characteristics, it is a good idea to remember that they are all substantially different from each other as well. Temple Grandin said it best, “when you have met one person with autism, you have met one person with autism.”