Reptiles and Minecraft: The Things Autism Parents Learn to Love

Jodi Shenal by Jodi Shenal Additional Needs

Jodi Shenal

Jodi Shenal

I'm a stay-at-home mom with two amazing children. My son is on the Autism spectrum and my daughter has a rare genetic disorder and multiple disabil...

When your child receives a diagnosis, you become fluent in a whole new language and soak up every bit of information that is available.

One of the symptoms of my son’s disorder is defined as:

“A preoccupation with only one or few interests, which he or she may be very knowledgeable about.”

This is such a completely perfect way to put it.

As parents, my husband and I have learned to embrace his interests and to immerse ourselves in them as well.

Over the years the topics of interest have changed, but his passion for them has not.

Instead of trying to change our son to fit into our world, one bit of parenting that we feel we’ve gotten right is this….we must learn to live in his world.

I am terrified of snakes.

When our son began memorizing the scientific names of snakes and recognizing hundreds of photos of snakes from around the world, it lead to us becoming the owners of a pet snake.

Then came pet snake number two and three.

Finally the snake fascination ended (and after a few years, they sadly passed away.)

I must admit a little feeling of relief when this preoccupation concluded.

With new vigor, the fascination with bearded dragons and geckos quickly emerged.

We are currently the proud owners of three bearded dragons and several brilliantly colorful geckos.

While a year ago, he would tell anyone that would listen EVERYTHING about the habitats and diets of these animals, the obsession with them has now faded away.

My husband inherited his child’s love for these animals, so they are still a part of our household.

From reptiles, the compulsion for Minecraft became prevalent.

This has been the longest lasting one, as we’re going on our third year as Minecraft connoisseurs.

Most of his clothing depicts his favorite characters and his room is filled with books and figurines pertaining to the game.

He becomes fixated on watching YouTube videos of other gamers documenting their gameplay, and his dream is to someday do what they do.

While we do encourage our child to take up other interests, like running or playing outside, we understand his primary focus.

We won’t force him to play football or other sports that he’s not interested in.

We do want him to be a well-rounded person, and we’ll strive to incorporate other facets into his life.

However, we want him to grow up knowing that we appreciate his individuality; and we’ll work hard to nurture his passions.

Because of him, we’ve learned to love things that we never would have imagined.


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