The Power of Obsession

Most parents of a child with autism know that children with autism spend an inordinately long period of time on narrow interests. A recent article in the Huffington Post attempts to grapple with whether there is a difference between obsession and preferred interest when it comes to autism. Of course there is! So what?

Many children with autism have full blown obsessions. Obsessions can actually be good, as long as they are steered in the right direction. The key is to make the obsession broad enough to include activities that are functional in society. If these skills are not properly channeled, then they become dysfunctional to the person with autism. So, for example, if a child loves to sing, put her in music! It is not functional for her to simply sing the same songs over and over again; however, it is useful for her, at a minimum: a) to learn about music, including reading music, and b) to learn how to take direction and sing in a choir or
learn an instrument. In other words, take the obsession -- yes... it may be an obsession -- and work to point it towards an area in society where your child can find a place!

Managed properly, obsessions can be great for
mainstreaming, and will develop skills that at a minimum can provide a leisure activity. In a best case scenario, a properly directed obsession can lead to gainful employment!