“At age 5, we decided to take both girls to Disneyland, which included a private session with her favorite characters at Disneyland’s City Hall that we arranged through a friend who worked at the resort. I remember how confused and agitated she was as we waited patiently in the courtyard for the appearance of Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, and Dumbo. Once they entered, she raced from our arms, quietly greeting each character and seeking a hug. We were stunned to hear that voice that was stilled for so long.”
Her mother Arabella says that the family initially started encouraging her to paint as part of broader therapeutic goals; hoping that art could help her develop speech and joint attention, along with social skills like turn-taking. Only then did they realize what a unique talent she had – far beyond other children in her age group.
In November, CNN covered the story of 22-year-old Jack Howes, a remarkable young man with Asperger’s whose affinity for soccer – or, to the rest of the world, football – helped him cope with anxiety and overcome social challenges. Writer James Masters describes how Jack can list every single FA Cup winning Team since 1984 […]
Joshʼs affinity for dogs started over a year ago. He always wants to go to the dog park or, at least, visit the three neighborhood dogs that we know. He loves to talk about dogs, pet them, and log “dog meets.” On our summer vacation, for example, he logged in a notebook every dog he met. I personally love his latest affinity because we not only have a dog, but I grew up with dogs. When I was his age, I loved dogs just like my son.
Yonatan came into a recent session with Tomi (his teacher) babbling a lot. He was very hyper (he is also diagnosed with severe ADHD). Among the things he was babbling were a few syllables he repeated a lot: : Ata-y, ata-y, he said again and again.
“We know you are trying to say something but we can’t understand,” both Tomi and I said to him.
Then we started writing, and Yonatan wrote a few letters that were not coherent to us. And then he wrote in Hebrew the letters that make up the same strange combination: Ata-y.
Reid has an affinity for music, entertainers, and performing. As a toddler, he memorized more than 200 track numbers and titles on favorite CD recordings and from “My First Hymnal.” It is obvious how deeply he feels music—both by how he wanders to wherever it is played and dances with abandon when he arrives. Songs in a minor key still bring him to tears. Gifted with perfect pitch, Reid helped select our first piano, nonverbally. The salesman said, “you need to get this one or he won’t abide it being played.”
“She used to draw (replicate) cartoon characters perfectly but now spends most of her time on Minecraft. She doesn’t start with a drawing. She actually visualizes a pattern on a grid and can superimpose it from her mind onto the computer screen and fill in the grid accordingly. It’s quite a gift.”
In April, the New York Times reported that researchers from MIT, Yale, and Cambridge, inspired by Life, Animated, are teaming up to study the effectiveness of structuring therapy around a child’s affinity. This was thrilling news, and research we will watch closely. But (as anyone who has ever suffered from a chronic condition knows well) […]
“There were these games he liked to play with hockey cards, like War: Who has the tallest player? Who has the player with the most goals?
Trevor said, ‘Quiz me on these.’ The cards we’d bought that day were different in that there weren’t any stats on them. There was an action photo on the front, and on the back they had a description of the game where that photo had been taken. And it said, you know, ‘This goalie made 37 saves in a 5-1 win on such and such date,’ and they were from the previous season.
I said, ‘I can’t, there are no stats.’
He insisted, ‘Quiz me on these! Just don’t tell me the date and the score.’ So I start quizzing him, and he responds ‘5-2, December 12th!’ I go through this whole pack, and there were 40 or 50 cards, and he got all but one of them right. I just thought to check the one he got wrong, and, of course, the card was wrong.”
Dylan is a young artist with autism whose vivid paintings caught our eye after an exchange on Twitter. We especially can’t stop staring at his sheep, who looks like Kandinsky’s ‘Color Study – Squares and Concentric Circles (1913)‘ engaged in some rapid mitosis and grew legs. Below, Dylan’s mother Shara was kind enough to share his story […]