It’s my son’s term. Occasionally, he comes out with winners like this, and I just had to share.
Fun-mindedness refers to the ability to concentrate on anything of interest to an incredible degree. It also refers to the inability to focus on everyday subjects. When faced with these, the brain hops around like rabbit, unable to settle on one thing for more than a moment. Or, more predictably, returns to the same beloved topic and ignores everything else.
In fact, it perfectly describes what happens to an AS child – or loved one – in the real world. All of you out there in the Asperger world are by now intimately familiar with The Topic.
With Fun-mindedness, if the subject at hand is also one that the child loves – dinosaurs, Star Wars, NASCAR, whatever – then attention is 100% there. The motivation to discuss the topic is high, and the desire to finish work, say dinosaur math, is at a record level.
On the flip side, as our behavior analyst told us many years ago, if the subject is not of interest the attention wanders. We’re not talking a small thing here. We’re talking skewed test results – often dramatically below actual ability – because our children have much more difficulty ‘being there’ for the mundane.
We’ve learned, over the years, to harness fun-mindedness, and to use its powers for good.
When he was little and didn’t want to eat meat, all we had to do was convince him to be a T-rex and he’d gobble the stuff, roaring all the while.
When he refused to alphabetize, we played dinosaur ABC’s to exercise that skill. A was for Apatasuarus, B for Brachiosaurus and so on, taking turns filling in the dino (by then, I knew most of the names but will guiltily admit to looking up X and Z).
I heard another parent saying just the other day on Wrong Planet that they used the same technique for teaching colors after everything else failed. That’s a green airplane, that’s a red airplane, that one’s blue, and so on.
As the years have gone by, I’ve seen a lot of growth in this area. I’ve seen my son slowly gain the ability to deal with – and finish – tests and schoolwork that don’t involve his cherished Topics.
I no longer quail as much when someone wants to perform an aptitude or IQ test.
Even so, when I write up his math review sheet tomorrow, you better believe that Batman and Superman Fractions will be saving the day. 🙂