maandag 5 mei 2014

Children, Hobbies and Autism

Before we start, let me put the situation clearly in perspective.  The `munchkin` I`m ofter referring to is an 8-year old boy, not from my gene pool, but the son of the girlfriend.  He is one week here, one week at his dad`s, and we are not on speaking terms due to something from looooong time ago (NOT involving the GF mind you!) and I`m not going deeper into this because there are those `mutual friends` who do enjoy nothing more then twisting words out of context and `deliver the news` to put more oil on the fire.  If they get their kicks out of that, fine for them, I`m not letting any sleep over that.

But back to the munchkin then, or `Smurf`.  This is a nickname I dubbed him with, because when I and his mom started to go steady, he was always watching the first movie of the little blue blokes.  It kind of stuck with the years...

The little one has a form of autism that used to be called Asperger in the old days.  Now I can go and slap you with medical terms where normal people will be going like `uhu huhu` over, but basically it comes down that his mind works in a very logical way, and you have to stimulate him in doing things outside of a rigid structure.  Or check the Wikipedia page on the subject here.

Hmm, typing this makes me look at Spock in a whole different matter...

It can also affect social and verbal communication, but let`s just say he can make a lot of noise and talk for hours, so it is not like he has an extreme form ;-)  No, his form is mostly of being afraid of doing unknown things, in the case he might not succeed, and then he folds in on himself. 

And that is why I started to push him more towards Lego a year ago compared to Playmobil (no offense to Playmobil lovers).  I myself am an AFOL (Adult Fan Of Lego) and the little construction bricks are a sure way to help develop creativity.  Now at first, the munchkin just bought sets to open them, take out the minifigures, play with those and left the rest to linger.  So we had to force him at times to at least build the things, and he panicked.

Part of Lego Lander Land

Then we proceeded by helping him, putting the bricks ready on a step by step basis, so he knew he didn`t have to proceed to the next step before all the bricks had been used.

And then something odd happened.  Lego: the Movie.  This might sound strange, and people might think I`m nuts, but when we went to see that movie (his first english with subtitles dutch to boot, and he could follow it start to end), he picked up the `anyone can build anything` part, basically the cudos of the `Master Builders`, very well... and spend his christmas money on buying a few boxes of the Movie series the day after, sat down... and put the sets together unsupervised

Okay, bar the stickers, but even for some grown-ups, those are a challenge.

Due to an animation movie of a little yellow toyfigure, he apparently overcame his fear of building Lego by himself!  

Now another dada of him is Harry Potter.  Big time.  In a lesser degree, also for his mum, but heck, I promise I`ll see the movies some day.  So when he got to know me and all those card thingies I was tinkering with, he happened to be in luck that I `happened` to have a starter of the Wizards of the Coast CCG of Harry Potter. 

He immediatly started a collector`s map, and I started looking for booster boxes to `reward` him when he was helping out and such.  Think of it as his pocket money.  So boxes flew in over half the world, and his most recent aquisition to earn are the also long oop Widevision cards from the Sorcerer`s Stone. 

Now, trading cards do have some benefits to ANY child.  In my opinion, not only does it teach them how to orden the cards in a logical manner (the numbering, by set, etc etc), but it also learns the valuable lesson, especially since they are hard to get nowadays, of not being able to have everything. 
This makes the kid really excited when he pulls a card he doesn`t have yet, while he stuffs his doubles in my stomach to trade them around for him (like, through Trade Cards Online for example), and I have managed so far to get some exchanges in from his doubles for cards he lacked (okay, and from my other cards for some of his, but keep that quiet ;-) ).

So yes, I actually feel kind of good about myself in this case.  Sometimes, that is allowed I think.  Why?  Because those hobbies of this old Geek, actually are having a positive development influence on the little bloke.  I can`t help him out with his `clumsiness` as I am one of those people having had `that one sporting accident to many` and my knees and back quickly start hurting when I toss or kick a ball around, but I can help him in `thinking out of the box` with my vivid imagination.

And slowly prepare him for his first steps in the world of MMORPG, when Minifigures Online comes out.  I`ll have him tussle around in the Beta as well in the summer holidays, to prepare his next steps on the path of Ultimate Geekdom.

Now to see if I can get his laptop up and running again, as soon as I can replace the XP with a 7....

3 opmerkingen:

  1. Games and legos are great ways to help our little ones expand their horizons. My eldest has several issues and being successful with lego and games helps him with his confidence as well as just being good fun. Good for you!

  2. Next set is simple to build tanks like plastic soldier company or armourfast and then he is off on a hobby that will last a life time.

  3. Lego is the greatest toy ever invented!