I say "obsession" for lack of a better term. Obsession, preoccupation, fixation, what ever the term, Tallen has went through different cycles of this since he was born. He will fixate on one or two things and that is all he wants to talk about or look at and it all he wants to hear about.
Before a year old, it was letter, numbers, shapes, and colors. He didn't necessarily show a reaction when seeing or hearing these things, other than the fact that they calmed him and he would stop whatever he was doing and focus his attention. Next, it was stars and planets. Then memorizing web addresses and phone numbers from T.V.. Later it was cars, then clay, then the alphabet in different languages, then cooking. Now it is dominoes.
I heard many suggestions from people who were supposed to know more than me, that I shouldn't encourage his obsessions but rather, I should try to move his focus onto something else. I asked myself. "Why?". I tried to put myself in his position. I thought back to the times that I couldn't sleep because I had a poem in my head, or a song, or a beadwork design, and how I couldn't sleep until I got out of bed and put it down on paper. Remembering that with Asperger's and similar disorders, things are magnified, I reasoned that it would just take him longer to to get something "out of his head" than it would the average person. I could fight it ot I could feed it. I have always chosen the latter. Even early on , when I knew something was wrong but had no idea what it was.
As a baby, I surrounded him with all the letters and numbers and shapes and colors that his little heart desired. He never tired of looking at them. I bought him the entire alphabet and number set, with extra animal shapes, in those foam floor tiles.He knew where each and every one of the pieces were and knew instantly if one was missing, frantically searching till he found it. Of course, he never left them on the floor where they belonged, he carried them around like teddy bears. So what if people gave us funny looks because out toddler was toting a giant, green, foam letter "Q" (his favorite) everywhere! So what if they stared because he would squeal and laugh and clap when I rolled him past the check out lines at Wal-mart, over and over, letting him count, because it absolutely thrilled him to see the numbers at each register. Guess what? Eventually, he left the letters behind and moved on to something else. I assume the letter thing was part of learning to read.Once he could read ( taught himself), he calmed down a lot with the letter obsession.
With each new obsession, I have put out the word to family and friends and they are happy to keep their eye out for items to help me"feed" it. I can't explain why but I am sure that, for whatever reason, his brain needs these things. And only after he quenches his thirst for this or that, is he able to carry on with other things. I will soon be passing down his letters to his sister. In a few days, I will be packing away over 200 ( probably closer to 300) Matchbox cars. I didn't buy all of those LOL A friend who had heard about his car obsession dug out an huge bin full of them from storage and gave them to Tallen. Those, plus others that were given to him one at a time, made for a huge collection.
If I can't afford to buy what he is craving, I look it up online and let him read and see lots of pictures of whatever it is. Or, I do my best to make it at home. Cooking was an easy one. Clay was easy as well. He really enjoyed making the homemade clay and adding his own colors. I also found him lots of videos online of how claymation was done etc... It can get hectic at times but I have an easier time dealing with it if I just remind myself that this is a need for him and not just a want. These days, it is dominoes. He loves lining them up in different formations and then letting them fall. We have been buying him a few here and there , as we can afford it and other folks are giving him some as well. He loves watching youtube videos of dominoes! Just like all the others, I know this fixation will pass with time. Till then, I'll be right here, on the floor with him, clapping and cheering, each time he makes a new design and knocks it down. His smile is so worth it!