Playing and Repetitive Behaviors
Posted by maxineowen
Cameron’s playing has changed so much over the years. He has gone through many phases of collecting things, an obsession, really. This is otherwise known as “Special Interests.”
When he was very young, he collected balls. Every time we went to a store, he had to get a new type of ball. He had everything from beach balls to tennis balls.
His interests then changed to cars. He had cars of every description. It didn’t matter if it was an old rusty car or a brand new car; he wanted it.
Along the way, he developed an obsession with animals. He liked African animals, farm animals, household pets, it didn’t matter. He collected figures of every kind, sometimes multiples of the same animal. He memorized facts about each one. There was almost nothing that he did not know about his chosen subject.
His current and longest-lasting obsession is super heroes. He collects big ones, small ones, good ones, bad ones. It doesn’t matter. He knows the back story behind every one of them and will tell his audience about them for hours, if he can get the person to sit still long enough.
The first few years of his life saw him lining his toys up in perfect rows, in a specific order, for hours on end. He would line them up anywhere he could find a spot. My kitchen table was his, not mine. My living room became a sort of road for his cars. He lined them up from one side of the living room to the other, and then on into the bedroom.
None of his toys interacted with one another. He didn’t talk to them. He just made perfect rows and lines.
A few months ago, we noticed that he had finally started interacting his toys. We were sitting in the living room, when I suddenly heard him making his toys talk to one another. I just stopped and stared. My husband was a few feet away from me and had noticed that I was no longer watching television. He glanced at me, and then at Cameron. I was just staring at my little boy with tears in my eyes.
My husband turned back to me and said, “What?”
I said, “Listen. He’s interacting his toys.”
The average parent might have walked into the room, taken one look at us, and think that we’d suddenly lost our minds. But this was a shining moment for us. We just stared at him for the longest time.
Cameron no longer lines his toys up in perfect little rows. He has advanced from interacting his toys to doing a sort of role play with us. I still take great joy in hearing him change his voice to fit the characters that he is playing with at the table.
When he goes outside, he has pretend sword fights with invisible enemies. He does the voices for both sides.
Sometimes, I look outside and he is pacing. That has never gone away, but I think that it’s because he’s deep in thought. If you ask him what he’s thinking, he will stop pacing and come over to tell you. In the past, he would just say that he was thinking, and then keep pacing. We had no idea what was on his mind back then.
Sometimes he paces the same path in our yard so many times, that I swear he will wear all the grass down. At least I now know what he’s thinking.