Wednesday, June 11, 2008

perfectionism

No, not me, although being a perfectionist is something I've been accused of more than once (or twice). This is Big A, and it's worrying me. The Aspie in him won't accept failure, won't even accept making mistakes or "getting something wrong". I submit, for your review, Exhibit A which took place this afternoon:

A sweet friend of ours turned us on last year to a great geography website, Sheppard Software. A loves learning about US states, doing state puzzles, playing states games, etc. Today, he decided to start trying some of the harder games on the site that he'd never tried before. It was unfathomable to him that maybe some of these games were ridiculously hard for just about anyone to do, much less a 6 year old, so he insisted on trying.

The first game went like this (I kid you not)--You get a blank map of the US. No outlines of state borders, nothing. Then you see a star at some random point on the map. Along with the star is a text box, and you have to type in the first 3 letters of the name of the state where the star would be located. I helped a very minimal amount. He was doing it approx. 90% on his own, and doing great for the first 10 states. Got them all, including Arizona, Maryland (which I would have missed), Mississippi, Wyoming, etc. Then came a star in what I knew was Upstate NY.

He said "I think it's Vermont" and wouldn't listen to my gentle hints otherwise. "I don't think so, buddy" but he insisted, typed in the letters and pressed Enter. If you get one wrong, the state appears and is colored in red. Up pops a red NY. I swear, you would have thought the world was ending, or someone just killed his dog or something (if we had one).

When he gets like this, it's a bit scary because he just collapses onto or off of whatever is near him..........falls out of a chair, collapses onto the bed, slings himself backward against the back of a chair, etc. No concern for how hard he does it, or whether he or someone else gets hurt. And the crying.....or should I say wailing. The more you try to console him, the worse he gets. I pointed out that we'd gotten 11 right in a row, and that it was fine to just keep playing. No dice. I told him that no other 6 year olds I knew would be able to do this game AT ALL, and look how good he was doing! Nada.

I told him it wasn't worth it to play these games if it's going to upset him this much, so let's not play it, and I got a screamed "I will never play these games AGAIN!" Like I've said, there's no middle ground with him, it's all or nothing, black or white. But immediately, he just closes that game and starts up a new round of the same game.......but gets one wrong within the first 2 states this time. Wailing begins anew. Then he frantically clicked out of that game, and found another one. Nope, got the first one wrong on there. :(

K came in to see what was going on. Then, when he was up to speed, he scrolled to the parts of the site A has done before, successfully. A didn't bite......he just fussed about having done those games a million times and they are too easy, not challenging. K tried again, with another game. Again, too easy. At this point, nothing would satisfy him. Eventually, I had to completely change gears with him by letting him watch TV for consolation. He said "I think I'll watch the Food Network instead of play computer". If that calms him down, so be it. Personally, I can't stand that Giada chick, but he likes her, so I guess it's ok.

Just a couple of hours later, we got a sweet email from next year's teacher. I'd written to her, gave her the briefest outline of the ASD diagnosis, etc, and asked to meet with her later in the summer for an info/strategy session. She sounds wonderful, very sweet, energetic, open, etc. But you know what? Each passing year in school brings more "real" work, more assignments that are really graded, then you start getting A,B,C grades, then it's standardized tests, you get the idea. I'm just praying that this sweet young lady has the patience of a saint, the insights and sensitivity of a Mom and the creativity of a......well, of a good teacher. She's going to need it if she wants to avoid daily meltdowns like the one I witnessed today. Somehow, some way, we've got to break this "I must be perfect, the world is crashing down if one tiny thing goes wrong" mentality. :( :( :(

1 comment:

littlebobleep said...

I wonder if perfectionism has to do with the ASD propensity to think literally. Like everything needs a right or wrong answer. My own little guy (ASD) is phenomenal at spelling, but surely would not at all appreciate things like limericks, that use words in a playful, multi-meaning way.

Just a thought.