Sunday, April 7, 2013


Individuals on the spectrum often have a type of behavior called "perseverance."  Normally, to persevere after something is an admirable trait, but those with autistic tendencies can carry this concept to the extreme.  In other words, they become "stuck" on something, and it can be extremely difficult for them to change gears.  

During the Easter holiday, Little Guy became obsessed with this:

Finding the golden egg.

Both of Little Guy's grandmothers host an egg hunt, and both of them have a golden egg filled with money as the ultimate prize.  For three days before the first hunt, Little Guy informed me he was going after the golden egg and talked about the toys he wanted to buy with the money inside.  I warned he might not find it; with 27 grandchildren on my side and more than half of them older than my son, I knew the odds were not in his favor.

The day arrived, and Little Guy filled the hours with talking, scheming, and dreaming about that golden egg.  All through the barbecue beforehand, he discussed his plans with his cousins and worried mightily during the regular hunt that someone might accidentally discover the special egg before he had a chance to look for it.

Finally, it was time.  I was worried about what might happen if Little Guy didn't get the golden egg, and prepared for the very real possibility of a meltdown.  13 kids were in the hunt for the prize...and someone other than Little Guy ended up finding it.  To his credit, our son didn't have a meltdown although he was very disappointed.  He followed his older cousin around for the rest of the evening, talking about the golden egg and repeatedly asking to touch it.  Little Guy was clearly having a hard time letting go of the idea which had consumed him for much of the week.

It persisted through the next day as well.  I was watching television with Little Guy the following morning when he suddenly announced, "It's okay that C (his cousin) found the egg."  Later that evening, we attended the baptism of one of my nieces.  Unknown to me, Little Guy found his cousin C during the refreshments afterwards and said he "forgave" him for finding the egg!  Clearly, thoughts of the golden egg had been dogging him throughout the day.

The next day brought the egg hunt held at my father-in-law's ranch.  We'd received word that many of the cousins were going to be absent, and instead of disappointment, Little Guy was ecstatic knowing his chances of finding the golden egg had grown overnight.  At the last minute, a family with young cousins decided to join us.  Little Guy became upset and said, "But one of them might find the golden egg instead of me!"

I really hoped my son would find the egg this time...if only because we could then put this nearly week-long obsession to rest.  This second hunt proved successful for Little Guy and he became the proud owner of a golden egg!  However, his triumph didn't lessen his focus on the golden egg;  he recounted to everyone how he had found it, then even put it back in its hiding place and showed his cousins where it had been (even though they were there when he had discovered it).  After he had led one of his cousins back to the egg's hiding place for the 3rd or 4th time, I took Little Guy aside and told him it was time for the egg to "rest".  Even then,  for the rest of that day and the day after, I would hear my son randomly say, "I can't believe I found the golden egg!"

Sometimes, this single-minded focus can be exhausting.  However, I feel it could be a very beneficial trait;  we just need to help Little Guy persevere about the right types of things.  With that kind of drive channeled in the right direction, the sky's the limit :)

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