If there is one piece of magic advice I can give you, my magic wand if you like, it’s to embrace your child’s special interest rather than shy away from it.
I know that at times the all consuming nature of it can feel overwhelming, there are other times that you are desperate to do something and it gets spectacularly in the way… and yes I also know how utterly infuriating it can feel to listen to Scooby Doo for the 956th time in a row.
But the truth is, if you reframe that interest and grow to understand it, it will be become the best bridge you will ever create between you and your child.
So Why Are Special Interests So Important?
At the most basic level Special Interests are important quite simply because they are important to your child. Knowing that you understand that will immediately make them feel closer to you.
But they are also incredible at reducing your child’s anxiety levels. Full immersion in their Special Interest can have a huge effect on their ability to engage with the world, and access to their interest on a regular basis can really help them to decompress.
Because their anxiety levels are lower, they will be more able to learn, to engage and to take part in real world activities. Incorporate that interest into their learning and activities and watch the magic happen. When you do, you’ll learn to love that interest almost as much as they do.
So How Can You Incorporate Their Interest Into Each Day?
Start At Breakfast
For many young people with Autism the time before school is anxiety provoking. Giving them time to talk about their Special Interest with an active listener before going to school, whether it’s as they get ready or on the car journey will help them to relax, and make for a much smoother transition into the school day.
Create A Calm Pack
Calm packs are without doubt one of my favourite transactional supports. Having a small bag filled with things that relax your child – from photos of them having fun, notes from you, and of course some Special Interest related items – can really help during periods of high anxiety. Whether that’s during the school day, on a familiy day out or on tricky journeys, having something there to distract them and help them focus on the positives can be really helpful.
Consider Their Room Design
Creatively incorporating their Special Interest Into Their Room can be a great way of providing a chill out space that they are happy to go to when things get tough. Whether it’s via a duvet cover, posters on the walls, well placed books or toys that are part of that interest, associating their room with that interest will go a huge way to making them feel comfortable there.
Introduce Special Interest Time
Set aside ten minutes of each day to spend time engaging with your child on their Special Interest, whether it’s playing a specific video game, talking about an interest, or having a Yu-Gi-Oh battle. Spending time showing them that you care about the things they do will really help them to engage in the things you need them to.
Why not join our lovely, friendly Facebook Group full of parents determined to make sure their children are #UNIQUEANDSUCCESSFUL.
If you do want to learn more you might find our autism section a useful place to start. It’s full of different strategies to try out.
Or if you’re looking for more personal support to help you take that action, why not check out our Consultancy Services.