Thank Goodness We’re Back on Dinosaurs: Autistic Obsessions Affect the Whole Family

When an autistic child gets obsessed or passionate about a topic, you had better pray you’re interested in learning every minute detail about that subject. Because that special child is going to want to talk, and talk, and talk about it. It’s just how they’re hardwired. And it’s how autistic obsessions suck in the whole family.

My eldest was three when he became enamored with dinosaurs. We learned together. I found that I could keep up with a preschooler’s capacity for knowledge. After about 40 species and as many factoids, though, my brain couldn’t retain any more information and just had to accept that he was right. Even at 4 or 5, I trusted that he knew that 65 million years ago a meteor hit the now Gulf of Mexico and obliterated much of life on Earth. Or that a certain beast was a Tarbosaurus and not an Allosaurus.

We had a great run of 5 years. We were watching BBC’s “Walking With Dinosaurs” when he was 4. We had read every book in the kid’s section of the the library and those in the surrounding towns by the age of 6. He had earned or had been gifted every dino related toy. Relatives were warned to only buy dinosaur themed presents. His room had dino decals on the wall and dinosaur bedding. He would only wear clothing that featured a dinosaur. His little brothers knew all about dinosaurs or at least, they were enamored with being a captive audience for big brother’s lessons. Because, he has always been a little professor.

You get the picture. Dinosaurs dominated our life. But…at least they were real.

Enter the dragon(s), namely, “How to Train Your Dragon”.

There were the movies: adorable. The Netflix television show: barely palatable. At least there was a dozen new books he could read. But, that’s pretty much it. OR SO YOU WOULD THINK!!!

Because there was also a video game! I would bleed from the ears, listening to all of the breeds and their strengths. You could battle these guys. And breed and hatch them! And there were toys, but not enough toys, ironically.

We endured two years of nothing but drawing dragons and reading about dragons and stepping on the collectable figures, and watching the shows and him asking me, “Mom? Which is your favorite kind of dragon?”

I don’t bloody know because I hate all of them!

No, no, I memorized a few names and would always say, “Whispering Death”. I mean, that’s a pretty fierce dragon. Given the choice, always pick Whispering Death because it’s a conversation stopper.

“Ok, Mom!”

Then, when I thought I couldn’t stand it another moment, we were onto Godzilla! I don’t really know how it happened but I’m blaming an in-app video. I made a poor parenting choice to let my 11 year old watch the 2019 movie, and we were burning up in our desire for all things Godzilla. Now, maybe if we lived in, I don’t know, JAPAN, it would be easier to satisfy Godzilla-mania. But after 6 months and a birthday, allowance money and Christmas, I think we’ve hit the end of Amazon.

I know there are more films, but having watched one, I realize just how many bombs, and missiles and guns and did I say nuclear bombs there are in them.

And then…like a strange Zephyr of Mattel origin, dinosaur toys have returned to dominate the land!

*Mother ululates*

Who cares if they’re hybrids? Who cares if I’m mostly hearing about how production of Jurassic World 3 has been pushed another year. At least we’re talking about REAL THINGS! “Real” as in derived from once living things, but I will take it.

Now, my brain has fogged and melted around the edges significantly in the 8 plus years since we were reading The Big Book of Big Dinosaurs. Motherhood and covid will do that. I forget what a Sarcosuchus looks like but I am so glad to see the bins upon bins of dinos emerging from storage to be played with!

My sweet boy may be on the cusp of adolescence, but autism has pushed that back a while. I go in to say Good-night, and his bed is filled with toys and there are fierce sounds of battle. If we have a moment alone, my child will ask, “Wanna talk about something?”

Sure!

“You know that lawyer guy in Jurassic Park? I wish they sold him and that he came with a toilet!”

Sigh. Yup, buddy, that would be pretty funny!

Published by Cynthia Zorabedian

I have always identified as a writer. My skills were honed early, writing poetry and research papers. Lately, my words have been used largely in passionate letters to the school district in which I advocate for the rights of my autistic children. My humor is my release from the stress of being a special needs parent and I'm finding so much joy in my new blog. I'm a Boston girl who now lives in Southern California with my husband and three sons.

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