Seeing Simon through myself

posted by Jeff | Wednesday, October 27, 2021, 10:07 PM | comments: 0

Simon has been super deep in creating what he wants to be an accurate representation of the Orlando airport in an airport simulation game that he has. He's been obsessed by it the last few days, looking at maps, photos and such. This is pretty typical for him, when he gets really into something. He goes all-in, which is not unusual for ASD. I can relate to this because I've been similarly obsessed with updating all of the forum stuff, and most of it is pretty dry, uninteresting stuff to most people, with nothing outwardly appearing newness. (For the nerds, check out the commits on this issue, basically touching all of the files.) But I can't look away.

I deeply relate to Simon in this sense. We have a lot in common about how we see and operate in the world. These commonalities manifest themselves in different ways, and to different degrees, but we share some genetic stuff, obviously. The above obsessive attention on specific things that we're interested in is a great example of this. Neither one of us are very good at applying this same kind of commitment toward things we see of little value or do not interest us. That really didn't set in for me until high school, when I started middling my grades in the subjects I didn't care about, while crushing the ACT. Unfortunately, I think this same approach is landing for him earlier.

There's a parenting challenge for me, too. I still hold some lingering resentment from my childhood toward adults that treated my interests as an inconvenience or bother. And one of those was, you know, "computers," which kind of worked out for me. So when Simon comes to me with repeated questions about something that he cares about, and I'm not that keen on it, I have to work hard to not feel like he's bothering me.

I also have to use some care not to think, "Well I'm like this, so he should be the same way." Being able to relate doesn't mean that I should be assuming he's a mini-me. We don't find all of the same things to be challenging. We express empathy in different ways. We become impatient for different reasons.

It's still very striking though how deeply we both commit to a thing when we're really into it. I hope that he's better able to find a way to channel that energy than I have.


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