May 4, 2004

Aspergers Childcare: Occupy, Occupy, Occupy

When a child is mildly Aspergers, you have to find ways to occupy their mind. With my daughter, maps do the trick.

I don’t know what it is about maps, but the girl loves ‘em.

We have a new Stop & Shop in the area. It’s bigger than the old one and laid out differently. Food shopping had often been difficult with both girls in tow because they would get bored easily. Bored children get fidgety, and fidgety children start to touch things, including their siblings. This can lead to chaos, and a stressful visit to the store.

With the new and confusing Stop & Shop came maps. When I gave my daughter one of these maps on the way out of the store last time she pored over it in the car and then later at home.

So, when Maggie visited the store with both girls, Kit said “Where are the maps. We need a map.” And though Maggie didn’t need one (she’s already written the aisle numbers on the shopping list) she gave Kit a map. Kit immediately became engrossed in memorizing the store layout. And she became engaged in the shopping experience, because she wanted to know everything on the list so that she could help locate the next item.

Perhaps it is a novelty at the moment, but it works. And she has always liked maps of any kind, as a visual thinker. Perhaps in stores without maps, she might enjoy making her own maps. She took to a similar behavior after playing certain video games. She felt the need to map out the locations.

One thing is certain. A little cartographer is far better company than a restless child.

Posted by James at May 4, 2004 9:11 AM
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Well, just to clarify, she was always engaged in the shopping experience. It's just that the shopping experience includes whining about who gets to push the carriage, running up and down the aisles and jumping from tile to tile on the floor, and begging for treats. Now it also includes pronouncements like "we're between this aisle and this aisle in the produce section," and quizzes for her sister like "point to two places on the map where you can get cheese. That's right! The 'cheese bar' and the dairy section." Now I only have the little one whining to push the carriage and begging for treats (she was never much of an aisle-runner or tile-jumper), so I don't have the same issues with fighting over resources. There's less running, which is disruptive, but there's the kid-with-her-nose-in-a-map-walking-into-other-customers issue. But it was truly fascinating seeing how much she loved that map! It's definitely a strategy I wouldn't have thought of on my own.


Posted by: Maggie at May 4, 2004 11:03 AM

I love maps.

Posted by: Bil at May 4, 2004 3:14 PM

I like books with maps, and I think Bob does, too.

My desktop wallpaper is of Hobbiton, which I got off of BBC a year or so ago.

Posted by: Patti M. at May 5, 2004 11:53 AM

I know I'm a little late with this comment but the "Asperger's and maps" really got my attention. My nephew, who is now an adult, exhibits many of the signs of Asperger's syndrome. Interestingly, he has paid his way through college working for a nearby county mapping their noxious weeds with GPS. He is a facts sort of guy. And he never forgets one.

Posted by: Margo at May 18, 2004 2:06 PM

Mapping noxious weeds - that's intriguing!

Asperger's people think differently, and they definitely have lots of strengths. The world just isn't as geared towared helping htem find their niches.

Posted by: James at May 18, 2004 2:35 PM

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