Lots of kids develop serious interests in a certain area, but kids with Asperger’s give new meaning to the term “obsession.” Justin gets so intensely interested in a subject that it colors every thought and conversation that he has. The fact that the people around him are all bored stiff by that same subject makes no difference.
His obsessions have ranged from his classmates’ names to Pokemon characters to sports figures. His latest one began when he was assigned a family tree project at school a few months ago (curse you Mrs. McAndrew!)
The kids were supposed to document at least 12 names on their chart. Justin is currently at 762 names and counting. He knows every detail of every marriage, birth and death in our family for the last 400 years, and he never hesitates to share that information. If I hear him talk about one more long-lost cousin, I will throw up.
I should also note that Justin writes lists. Endless lists. Piles and piles of lists. The kid is a serious threat to our nation’s forests. Early on we tried to redirect him by hiding the scrap paper, but he scribbled on his own arm, on his walls, even on my blank cheques. He used his finger to “write” on the carpet. He made letters out of PlayDoh. The guy needs to write.
So today I noticed a few lists of animal stats next to a book of facts about wildlife. A little while later Justin sat at the table with that book and read random facts out loud to me. I thought the tide might finally be turning. Could we really be over the whole family tree thing? Please God?
“A sperm whale can live up to 70 years,” Justin announced. Then he paused and looked up as if a thought had suddenly struck him. I held my breath.
Then he reached for a piece of paper and added, “Let’s put that on a family tree.”