A Pathway, Not a Prison

This post originally appeared on Slate in April, 2014. Written by Hanna Rosin.

Many children on the autism spectrum develop affinities, or what we might call obsessions. They focus on things like train schedules, maps, baseball scores, video games, or, in the case of Owen Suskind, the subject of his father, Ron Suskind’s, new book, Life, Animated, classic Disney movies. We could also call these “affinities” passions, but the psychiatric establishment might object to that positive spin, because “affinities” are generally thought of as symptoms, signs of the child getting tangled up in his or her own repetitive thoughts. They are considered the autistic child’s way of warding off the world because it’s too scary or confusing to engage. If therapists indulge affinities, it’s generally as a reward for the child attempting appropriate social behavior. (Make eye contact and I’ll let you watch Aladdin).

Read the full piece here.