Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Kansas Countdown

In each presentation I give I mention this but I have never written this so I thought it would be good to share this about Kansas. To begin though, since some of you may be new to my blog, I need to explain Kansas and mention I am not talking about the physical state.

Kansas, by my definition, is that area of interest or knowledge that a person on the autism spectrum is obsessed with and will talk about it nonstop even if no one else really has any interest. Because of this I use the concept of, if you were paralyzed in every state except Kansas, where would you want to live? Obviously the answer is Kansas and for us on the autism Kansas is a haven.

One of the beautiful things about Kansas is that each person's Kansas can be unique to his or herself. Remember that, "if you've met one person with autism you've only met one person with autism." However, there does seem to be Kansases that are more popular and common than others. This list I'm about to give is not scientific by any means and is only an observation from what I've heard parents, or others on the autism spectrum, say.

1. Dinosaurs

2. Trains

3. Sharks

4. Weather

5. Movies

6. Military/airplanes

7. Games, electronics, video games specifically the game Minecraft

Those are the top seven and Monday night at bowling I was having a conversation with a retired news anchor that is on my bowling team and he mentioned that, "those are topics that anyone, really, could be interested in." A great observation and then I mentioned a line that one of my coworkers says and that is, "Autism is human behavior simply taken to the extreme. It's something everyone does, but those on the spectrum do it more." So what that means is that we may become so engrossed in our Kansas that everything else becomes irrelevant. The term, "hyper-focus" would be very apt at describing what can occur when we start with our Kansas.

Another point I'd like to make is that I just mentioned the top 7 things Kansas could be, but Kansas could be anything! Often times it's heavy in facts because if we are talking about facts we're talking about something right or wrong, black or white and in that world there is no middle ground, or gray area and it's within the gray area that we struggle. As I said though, it could be anything whether it is world history, math, famous people from Portugal, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, auto manufactures, or even door know manufactures; whatever our Kansas is we are going to feel a level of safety when talking about it or learning about it. Truly it can come down to my concept of being paralyzed in every state except Kansas and if that were the case the answer of what state you'd want to live in would be obvious. So too, for us on the spectrum, we will do everything we can to steer the conversation towards our Kansas.

1 comment:

  1. One of the things I've seen many people on the spectrum focus on is sports. Here in St. Louis it's usually Blues hockey or, more often than not, Cardinal's baseball. And it's not just the enjoyment of the game, it's that they know every single little fact going back decades about the team. Stats and scores and World Series and players. I now know that these were probably their Kansas. It really helps to have a name to put to something like that now.

    Your bowling buddy is right. Like I've said about most of the traits of those on the spectrum, anyone can have an interest in certain things or display certain behaviors. The difference being, as you state, is that these interests and traits are taken to the extreme. And that's probably the most apt description of Autism that I can think of. I'm glad that you're able to explain these things to me so I can, in turn, explain them to others. You're right, understanding is key.