Finding balance

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anonymous user
Registered: 12-31-1969
Finding balance
13
Tue, 08-21-2012 - 11:06pm

I have really enjoyed the conversations on the board of late.  One of the things I am trying to teach DS5 right now is the importance of balance.  Yes, it is a bit odd to have that conversation with a 5 year old, but I hope the people on this board get it.

Anyhow, DS has taken very strongly to mathematics lately.  He would prefer to spend hours on a spreadsheet learning about prime numbers than going outside to do anything. 

How much time do you allow your youngsters to follow their passions versus participating in 'age appropriate' activities (like fresh air)?  Did you limit it or make them put down the 'violin" to do something/anything else?  My insecurity is encouraging the development of a clear talent versus development of a healthy/well-rounded child. 

Thanks,

K

 

Avatar for turtletime
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Registered: 05-13-1998
In reply to:
Wed, 08-22-2012 - 4:00am

I guess it depends on how extreme you are talking. I mean, at least in our house, it's very normal for us to go through obsessive periods. Yes, when I start learning something new or have an interesting project.. I will find myself up at 3am still working on it. The need to master, to finish is overwhelming. Both my kids and DH have the same tendancies. In our cases, they never last forever. We eventually get to where we need and our activity normalizes until the next passion strikes us. I guess we find a balance as a family by understanding and picking up the slack for eachother. We also see "balance" in the longterm as opposed to expecting daily balance year round.

The only real issue we've had is with DD 15 whose passion for theatre has resulted in commitment and sacrifice from all of us. It's been unrelenting for a good 7 years now. In this one case, we had to let her "crash and burn" from being over committed in order for her to fully understand that she needed to pull-back and force herself to focus on other things that needed care.

I don't know exactly how extreme the situation is with your son. Personally, spending a month obsessed over math and shunning other activities is not a big deal in our house. Just this summer, DS 11 spend a good 4 weeks on his rear playing minecraft with his buddies. Without me saying a word, hasn't touched it the last 2 weeks... instead, went to the beach, had a campout in the front yard, went to a ball game, read a book and helped the neighbors move in. School starts in a couple weeks and he'll be lucky to get on it once a week. We tolerate those periods of imbalance because we know that over-all, the kids are well-rounded and manage to get what needs to be done, done. 

Avatar for turtletime
iVillage Member
Registered: 05-13-1998
Wed, 08-22-2012 - 11:08am

I think the aspergers and knowing he will hyper-focus to avoid activities that make him uncomfortable puts you in a much different scenario than my own family and likely Miranda's too. I learned early that both my kids will eventually be satisfied with the level of competency or ability they achieve in any area and rejoin the world. It sounds like that may not be the pattern in your son and so my approach may not work for you at all.

I will say that he is still young. The overall goal is a balanced adult and that's not neccessarily achieved by daily balance through childhood. It is natural for kids to spurt in select areas and catch-up in others later. The question is really WILL he move on to other things on his own. The aspergers may not allow him to do that at this particular age and he may need more direct guidance and bounderies. 

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Registered: 04-09-2006
Thu, 08-23-2012 - 7:54pm
Yes, that puts a different spin on it. We have not discouraged obsessions...in fact for a while in the spring I was taking dd14 to town three days a week to volunteer with horses (4 hour sessions), and then to another place some afternoons for more horse intensive time...I wanted her to be fully aware of the kind of commitment it takes to care for horses. On one trip home she said, "Thank you for indulging me in my horse obsession...if you weren't I would always be thinking about what I was missing".

Deborah
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Registered: 01-05-2005
Fri, 08-24-2012 - 11:17am

 On one trip home she said, "Thank you for indulging me in my horse obsession...if you weren't I would always be thinking about what I was missing".

That's similar to what happened with my dd21 many years ago with the violin. We took her to an expensive, out-of-state strings camp, where she played with a lot of young virtuosos. They pretty much spent every waking moment playing or studying music - it wasn't one of those camps where you had swimming or archery in your spare time, lol!  The camp was actually what helped her decide NOT to pursue violin seriously. We told her it was money well spent - it gave her a chance to really see what it was like and instead of thinking we were too -cheap, busy, uncaring, etc..- to help her become the next Itzhak Perlman, she realized that many of the kids would play ten hours a day for the sheer joy of playing, and she just didn't have the heart or desire to do that. Many people later asked us if we regretted sending her, but honestly, it was worth it so that she could really understand the commitment involved in making the violin the most important activity in her life. For those kids who came home absolutely glowing and thrilled with the opportunity to play all day every day, well, their parents were also probably happy. :smileywink:

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-18-2005
Fri, 08-24-2012 - 4:06pm

If you're concerned about adequate physical activity, you could try finding something active that ties into an area of interest.  For example, when M. was obsessed with outer space, we found a space-themed mini-golf in our area.  I'm sure there are active games you could concoct involving numbers/math.  My 6 yo that sends me to this board is inherently a high-energy, active child, but it is less automatic for his brother.  We turned his interest in music into playing marching band with drums and shakers, and his sensory seeking issues into early swimming classes.  Be creative, and hang in there.

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iVillage Member
Registered: 04-09-2006
Fri, 08-24-2012 - 10:37pm
For us the dd14 horse thing has been going on for some time...it's just that I don't always have the time to indulge it to its fullest extent...and my dd21 has had a lifelong obsession with drawing, to the point that she spent a couple of years doing very little else.

Deborah
iVillage Member
Registered: 12-06-2010
In reply to:
Mon, 08-27-2012 - 5:08am

This is a huge issue for us and I am not certain what to do about it. DD10's passion is music and it expresses itself in every aspect of her life. She plays violin as soon as she gets home from school, when she's angry, happy, frustrated. She sings all day, even at the dinner table and while brushing her teeth (although then it's more like melodic gurgling). She whistles, taps, makes constant noises. I feel bad sometimes because I end up telling her to stop singing or playing. She'll stay silent for up to half a minute until she starts again, usually with no clue that she has started up again. It's really difficult in the car when she sings at the top of her lungs or when I need quiet so I can concentrate on wherer we're going. The breakfast table and dinner table are real challenges too. We used to try to control it by encouraging her to give after-dinner concerts, but that ended up backfiring when she would eat two bites of food, then annouce that she was finished, could she play for us?

What helps her is participation in external sports activities or working out at home with me (and with the music blaring, of course). She will also stay quiet if we read aloud to each other. But even this is a kind of "musical" activity to her because we both read with a great deal of verbal expression. She loves playing with the puppy, but she will sing made-up songs to him the entire time they play.

It's a tough thing because it's obvious that whatever it is that makes her make music all the time is inside her, jsut itching to get out. Her violin teacher is trying to teach her to "put the songs in a drawer" sometimes so she can concentrate. The idea is to let the songs keep playing in her head, but in a drawer wherer she can't hear them right now. I have no idea how effective this will be. I think that this struggle is something DD is going to have to deal with  - the dark side of her gift, I guess.

I'm not sure how different your position is from anyone else's even though your DS has Asperger's. My DH is on the high-functioning end of the AS himself (testing right on the edge) and I work closely with an adult who has Asperger's. They both obsess about certain tasks and subjects in a way which would be unusual for neurotypicals, but they also profit from balance in the same way that everyone else does. Both DH and my colleague respond extremely well to the concept of meeting to plan out goals - or plan out balance. The meeting environment gives them the added time they need to accustom themselves to change or new situations that they otherwise would reject if faced with them without warning.