Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Be careful what you wish for

Bud lost a tooth last week and the tooth fairy left him three dollars, which he took to Toys R Us to parlay (with a bit of supplemental financing from me) into a DVD. After only a few minutes browsing the video rack, Bud made his choice: Elmo's World. A DVD just like all the others in his collection. A DVD designed to appeal to children five years his junior.

I've spent the better part of the week thinking about Bud's choice and why it bothered me. Part of the issue, I have to admit, is that I am just tired, tired, tired of watching Elmo and the Teletubbies. Another part, though, is that as Bud gets older, his entertainment choices pull him further and further away from his neurotypical peers.

But, I've countered to myself in this internal debate, perhaps these are the videos that are meeting Bud's developmental needs. Perhaps they are still the videos that meet him where he is.

And then I remember Bud's echolalia, and I'm reminded of the tremendous benefit of the mostly polite and appropriate language that comes along with Bud's exclusive draw to preschool programming. I remember what happened when Bud developed an interest in 101 Dalmatians, and I had to manage scenarios like this:

One afternoon, as the result of a childcare glitch, I had to pick up Bud at school and bring him to my office in the afternoon. Bud loves coming to my office, but we are typically there on weekends, when we have the place to ourselves. This particular afternoon, though, the campus was bustling with activity and as we walked across the parking lot, Bud realized that something was different.

"No friends will be in the office, Mom?" Bud asked.

"Today is a work day, Bud," I said. "All the friends will be at the office."

Bud considered his options for a moment, then turned to me earnestly and said, "I'll pop 'em on the head. You do the skinning."

So maybe sticking with Elmo is not such a bad thing after all.

30 comments:

kristen said...

I hear you on this one. And it is such a tough place to be in as a parent, wanting our kids to relate to their peers, wanting their peers to relate to our kids...all of which is so hard to do without common interests.

But I think you've touched on something important here. Maybe Elmo and the Teletubbies DO speak to Bud, to where he's at right now, socially and emotionally.

My son shudders at the thought of superheros and it seems all his friends are into transformers. He could care less. And maybe that's not such a bad thing

Maddy said...

We wrestle with similar issues. At the same time I think a lot of children have a fondness for things from earlier days, but are too sophisticated to admit to it. There is a comfort in the familiar and as you say, so much of the 'new' has barbs attached.
Best wishes

MOM-NOS said...

That's a really good point, Maddy, and it reminds me that Bud often goes back to a more familiar "space" when he's under stress (which has certainly been the case in recent months). I've actually written about it twice before - here and here - but didn't make the connection this time. Thanks!

Niksmom said...

I think Maddy is on the right track there. I find that Nik reverts to an old favored toy (which he really doesn't play with much anymore) when he is especially tired or has had a stressful day. There is absolutely comfort in the familiar...for all of us.

kyra said...

yes, i agree with everyone here. there is much comfort in the familiar, in not having to work or stretch. it may not be the exact same thing but after the gains of the last month and the big birthday party etc etc, fluffy and i have spent the last two days in our pajamas with a big fat dose of computer games and videos!

Carrie Wilson Link said...

My son is 11 1/2 and still obsessed with Elmo. I hear you. Every word.

Ange said...

This week a neighbor kid came over (his playmate moved, so he's trying our house again). He's in kindergarten and Bubba is in 2nd grade. Bubba wanted to watch Bob the Builder, and the kid acted like that was so baby-ish, but he was enjoying it anyhow. However, when Bubba force-laughed in his face several times and said "this is a funny part" several times, the kid decided to leave.

BUT! I look at what the other kids are watching, and I know Bubba is watching what he can process right now. He still enjoys 'preschool' programming the most. And when he watches other shows (like those on cartoon network), he just has this look of fear in his eyes, so it's not worth it.

kristi said...

Hilarious!

mommy~dearest said...

Awesome quote!

I struggle with the very same issue with Jaysen. Except his entertainment of choice is even farther behind...the Baby Einstein collection.

He has gotten laughs and jeers at school (he has to carry the tapes with him 2 or 3 at a time), but I've given in to the hope that maybe the peer pressure will quell his attachment to the baby tapes. I'm not going to be the one to strip him of his security. He'll let go when it's right for him whether it be peer pressure, or maturity.

However, I do worry when he says he's going to take them to college with him. then again, he also thinks I'm still going to be sleeping in his bed with him at college too.

Laura said...

I don't think Bud is missing much of value as he steers clear of the mainstream media made for his age group. I look at the rude and sarcastic ways kids talk and think they must be learning so much of it from TV. Kids have way more interesting things to connect about!

We're a little fringe, though...I tend to forget! :)

Holding It Together said...

How true--although my little guy is watching some older kids stuff, he still wants Boohbah DVD's on his birthday list and is a huge fan of all things PBS Kids. We also still have his collection of baby einstein videos, which he occasionally watches. He pulled one out the other day and said, "My body is telling me I need this." I thought, "How profound," and put it in the DVD player for him.

I also remember the days when you could spend an hour in the toy store with him and come out with absolutely no idea if anything in there interested him or even caught his attention. Now he can very clearly tell you what he wants!

Drama Mama said...

I'm with Kristen. You know, Miss M shuns High School Musical and all the other tween things.

I asked her why, and she said, "They're simply not interesting."

I asked my sister, who is a Developmental Specialist, and she thinks that it is a way for our kids, who have to WORK so hard at "fitting in" or presenting as such, that it is simply comforting and familiar.

The Tubbies and Elmo are non-threatening, and colorful and abstract (Tubbies-hello!) and perhaps allow his imagination to do it's thing.

I hear you, though. I'd be sick of it, too.

Daisy said...

Oh, my goodness. I shouldn't be laughing, but after the fact it is a wee bit humorous, you must admit. My son, 16 and Asperger's, occasionally turns on Noggin. I think it's comforting because he doesn't have to process anything; he can simply veg.

Anonymous said...

Bud is a cutie, and I agree with the other responses here.

That said, do you think maybe Bud is just "stuck"? My almost 4 year old son is the one who will want to try new things (he is NT) and this, in turn, helps Pete to watch new shows that I know he would not pick out himself. Pete is almost 7 and we are finally done with Elmo over here.

I know I'm nuts, but I love the Teletubbies. :-) And Boobah.

karen in ca

Beau McClelland said...

This reminds me of myself - my entire life.

To this day, I'm 21, but still enjoy PBS and Noggin. It's harmless to me, which is all I ask for. I've even learned a little Spanish from Maya and Miguel along the way :)

MOM-NOS said...

Believe me, Daisy, I didn't even have to wait until after the fact to find the humor in it. Right there in the moment I think I laughed so hard I snorted (on the inside, of course - no need to reinforce the power of that particular phrase with Bud!).

Stimey said...

Man, I wish my guys would watch Elmo. I've had to ban some of the programming (Tom & Jerry is a great example) my husband likes to show them because my Jack will script, imitate, and idolize all the extremely inappropriate things they do.

jparker624 said...

Your life with Bud takes me back so! My son LOVED Elmo and Arthur and Thomas the Tank Engine over and over, forever and ever. What constant I realized is the neat and tidy conflict resolution all of these shows created. Always a problem and always a nice solution to conclude. That was terribly important and helpful to my son. And at 17, he will still go to Noggin and he will still catch an episode of Arthur. Easy on his eyes, ears and brain wrapped in a nice and easy package! Bud is such a wonder, how lucky you are!

kristina said...

Ah but that high-pitched monster voice! Each at his own rate.

Phil Schwarz said...

I *still* like the old (Jim-Henson-era) Sesame Street episodes. I was a teenager when they first came out. I watched them back then as a teen, with nearly-adult eyes and a child's heart. I still do that.

My just-turned-17-yo son Jeremy, who's autistic too, likes a combination of kid-and-tween stuff (Harry Potter, High School Musical), and "heroic" stuff (X-Men, Lord of the Rings). Always several years later than his nonautistic chronological peers.

Let Bud move on at his own pace, to entertainment that speaks to him each step of the way. God willing, he's got a long, rich life ahead of him, and plenty of time to keep discovering new stuff.

Autistic people are tortoises, not hares; given enough time, they'll cover the entire race course. Or at least those parts worth covering.

Deeof6 said...

I totally agree that these videos (while we are tired of watching them) are probably more appropiate in terms of where he is socially right now. We have 6 kiddos & our 8yr old son is severely autistic and has similar intrests (thankfully not so much in the teletubbies anymore, lol). With echo. it certainly is better then them repeating quotes from "The Simpsons" etc... (EEK don't want to imagine that one). Our son loves the credits, especially from Disney movies and his fav line is "and now our feature presentation". LOL!!!
I have to admit the 'bopping' and 'skinning' thing made me laugh. I'm sure some people have thought of some of their co-workers in that way - Out of the mouths of babes ;oP

Anonymous said...

Many an occasion I'd like to do just that at my office!

My son is bombarded with Spiderman and such at Preschool. He has no interest in it and happily stays in the comfort of Little Bear at day's end.

I doubt some of the current mainstream action cartoons open with "this is designed to teach language and social skills"

Anonymous said...

tv is just crap all around. keep him away from it as much as possible-the longer you keep letting him 'veg' in the world of the teletubbies or sesame street, the harder it will be for him to accept and relate to the real world. my son is 8 and on the spectrum. one day, when he was 6 I got so sick of thomas and all of that stuff that I threw them all out-he was traumatized for a wekk, then got over it and developed a new interest in art and has been thriving ever since. anyone who thinks tv helps our kids is wrong-it is not real and it does NOT help. we tend to let our special kids go to the place where they are comfortable without considering the damage it is doing. as a parent-it is out job to help these kids grow-not stay stagnant. sure they may be upset for a while but THEY WILL GET OVER IT BECAUSE THEY HAVE NO CHOICE. test him out.

Eileen said...

Seseme Street, Blues Clues and The Wiggles are some of Andrew's favorites. He's five and I see no interest in other shows yet. Wish Brian still was interested in these shows with more appropriate language instead of Sponge Bob. Sadly Kaitlyn's favorite song, which she gets very excited about, is the theme song for Sponge Bob. I need to make sure she watches with Andrew more, instead of Brian.

Anne said...

I just found your blog today, and I just have to say how much I love the name! My son was diagnosed with PDD-NOS.

Terri H-E said...

Hit your blog accidentally - glad I did. My daughter has an intellectual disability in addition to an ASD (drs only willing to call it PDD-NOS at the moment, par for the course). I didn't really care about her immature choices for entertainment until recently. There is now a Dora-like show that infuses Mandarin Chinese instead of Spanish. I spent some time in Taiwan and speak Mandarin much like a 4 year old at this point. I was so excited to hear of the show, thinking we could watch it together. Ah, duh. My child is 100% non-verbal, and I'm thinking she's going to pick up some chinese from a half hour show. She hasn't picked up English from Tubbies (thank god) or Elmo yet, so I guess I need to reshuffle my expectations. I still have Ni Hau Kai Lan set on my DVR. I'll watch it late at night alone, I guess...

Marla said...

Oh, my. "I'll pop 'em on the head. You do the skinning." Yikes! We have wrestled with whether or not to push more age appropriate shows too. It was not until the last several months that M began showing an interest in shows other than ClubHouse Mickey and Dora. It seemed like it just happened over night. I was always bothered by it too. I do think though that there is probably no harm in it.

dmdm said...

LOL! My Rex's viewing choice is 'old school' Sesame Street and all things Muppet Show/ Henson. He went thru a phase where he refered to strange women (like ladies in the grocery store, our realtor) as "Female Cheese". It was a bit between Gonzo & Kermit that when taken out of context is quite strange!
As for other things Rex wants to zone in on that may not be age appropriate or obsessed upon ie: Baby Einstein, Blues Clues... I flat out tell him No. I understand the kids need to seek comfort, but I find that when I allow certain programs, I loose my child into his own world for long stretches of time. In my son it seems to be an obsessive escape beyond what may be appropriate during a stressful time. My boy has grown from my tough love as well. Now when he asks to watch a banned show, he tells me 'I'm not gonna get stuck on Blues Clues'... about 100 times! LOL I find that if I use the program as a reward and tow the hard line, he seems less likely to 'get stuck', and his horizons widen a bit. It may sound like 'Mean Mommy' but there are some instances when nudging the kids out of their comfort zone in a safe way is a good thing.

Anonymous said...

I read your blog often. I have not commented. My son is 8 year old. He was home from school today and as usual spent the whole day wanting to watch the teletubbies. He even loves when I read your blog because of the photo on the side. Most of the time I can underlook it but sometimes it bothers me a lot. Thanks for listening.

readingwritingliving said...

I have a 17 year old who was so excited to be able to see "R" movies. She went to see "No Country for Old Men" and the next weekend, invited her friends over for a sleepover filled with Mulan and 10-yr old Mary Kate and Ashley movies. Total comfort level.

But his "you pop 'em on the head" comment just cracked me up.