...restricted repetitive and stereotyped patterns of behavior, interests and activities, as manifested by at least two of the following:
1. encompassing preoccupation with one or more stereotyped and restricted patterns of interest that is abnormal either in intensity or focus
2. apparently inflexible adherence to specific, nonfunctional routines or rituals
Kids with autism often have quirky special interests - trains, train schedules, garage doors. They may be so obsessed with their favorite topic they can barely imagine playing with or talking about anything else.
Ryan's main fascination is the alphabet.
He has loved letters for as long as we can remember, and was able to recite the entire alphabet in order months before his second birthday. At the time I thought he was just really advanced.
Letters are such an integral part of Ryan's life, it somehow never occurred to me to write about his love of them. Writing this post kind of feels like I'm pointing out, "Hey, did you know my kid has ten fingers?" But I guess not really like that at all.
His favorite toys include a box full of letters (made of felt, foam stickers, magnets); Dr. Seuss's Super Stretchy ABC Game; and two sets of Word World-themed Legos.
If he's thirsty, he's likely to request juice by asking, "What's something starts with J?"
And he enjoys lining up sets of 26 objects (mostly animals, but, you know, whatever works), one for each letter.
So you can not even imagine how excited Ryan got when Dinosaur Train aired a two-part episode dedicated to assembling all the species from the Dinosaurs A to Z song.
As you might imagine, he watched it several times.
Then he assembled representations of all 26 species. Surprisingly, we don't own a toy einiosaurus or a xenotarsosaurus, so many dinosaurs are represented by other animals that start with that letter; instead of a quantasaurus, we've subbed in a knight I named Quincy. The one exception to the alphabetical rule is the X-Y-Z dinosaurs are represented by creatures of dramatically increasing size (I can't link to the exact video, but if you click here and scroll down to "All the Dinosaurs Sing Dinosaurs A to Z!" you'll see why).
So, next he requested the song to play on a continuous loop on my iPod while all the assembled animals sang along and performed the same choreography as in the tv show.
And this has been going on almost nonstop for the last two weeks.
Tonight at what Stu and I thought would be bedtime, Ryan kicked it up a notch with a painfully-thorough reenactment of the entire two-part extravaganza, including the big dance break; it took over an hour.
Mommy needs something that starts with W...