A small victory


Active Member
We have a long-term problem with difficult child 3, getting him to watch anything other than a very narrow range of TV shows & films. Same with books - if he had his way he would still be reading primers. And this is a kid who could read when he was 2.

The problem is conflict. Every story, every plot, is run on conflict. The tension builds, the conflict gets to a maximum point- and then there's the resolution. But difficult child 3 finds the tension unbearable. He's a lot better at managing it now, but is now very much into avoiding having to interact with anything which will introduce ANY conflict. Even having to write a story for school - same thing. The story is written with as little conflict as possible. Interestingly, an adult friend of mine at my writing group will also write stories without conflict (or as little as possible). As a result, her novel-in-progress is boring beyond belief, because all that is happening in it is this person meeting that person and having a conversation. Or going to dinner.

Back to difficult child 3 - I watch M*A*S*H every afternoon (yet another interminable series of repeats). difficult child 3 is in the next room, occasionally wanders past to get food or whatever. Without actually watching it (which he refuses to do) he has seen enough to begin to be intrigued.

Today's episode is the one with the clock on the screen (something which always got difficult child 3 in to anything). The one where the patient has a shattered aorta and needs to have a graft done within 25 minutes of having the aorta clamped (or his kidneys will shut down and his spinal cord die). I succeeded in getting difficult child 3 to watch it with me! of course, in the ad breaks difficult child 3 was rushing off to play his computer games again, but he stayed for the whole program, and at last 'got' the final joke.

A breakthrough! Because once he's watched ONE episode, he will watch more, willingly. And we will have another TV series to add to his experiences.

It will be just my luck if this is the last re-run!



That sounds like an accomplishment. I have slightly the other problem. difficult child 1 while she was home only wanted to watch things that had major conflict in it (Girl, Interupted and White Oleander). For her she just has to pick at the scabs of life and add as much coflict as possible. Can we splice them together and get a happy medium....



New Member
Aww, that's great Marg. Hey, if they don't run anymore, check on Amazon.com or Ebay.com and do a search. They may have some type of boxed set from a series or something. That show is a classic, I have to wonder if you can find something of that nature.

Glad to hear he's doing well. Proud of him :smile:


Active Member
easy child is collecting the boxed sets, I might ask her to bring some up when she comes next weekend, for her sister's 21st birthday party. But if he watches it on TV, that is a huge breakthrough - it means he's watching whatever episode is screening (a risk, for him) and that is healthy.

I've been reading to him in the evening, but I've missed the last few nights because evenings are so busy. I've also said I think he's now mature enough to watch Harry Potter films from Goblet of Fire and beyond. And once he's seen the film, he reads the books. I might try and get "Mary Poppins" (the books) out of the library for him. I did have a copy, but it's fallen apart.

He's participating more in drama class, too, so his drama teacher says. It's a class for kids with learning difficulties - in his class are a kid with severe ADHD, sleep apnoea, Downs, Prader-Willi, another couple of autistic boys and general developmental delays. One kid follows difficult child 3 round like a puppy. They're good friends even though in so many ways they're miles apart. He calls difficult child 3 "Harry Potter" because he looks like him. difficult child 3 is fed up with being called "Harry Potter" but will happily put up with it from his friend.



Well-Known Member
Wow! That IS a breakthrough.

Interesting about the conflict avoidance issue. I'm not autistic (that I'm aware of) but when I was a kid, I had to leave the room during I Love Lucy episodes because I couldn't stand it when she got in trouble. :crazy: :eek: :wink:


Active Member
It's the same thing, Terry, only a matter of degree. And it's also linked to extreme anxiety.

For a long time, we didn't realise that difficult child 3 didn't understand that what we were watching is fiction. It wasn't until we took him to a big screen presentation of "Mars Attacks!" in the village (in the school hall, they dragged out gym mats for the little kids to lie on and maybe fall asleep). difficult child 3 sat through it wide-eyed, complaining of feeling sick, hid his face and was aghast at the destruction.

As we were having supper afterwards, difficult child 3 was asking about the movie. "Did they put all those buildings back after they knocked them down?" He couldn't understand that it had all been pretend, nothing real got knocked down.
"And did they put those people back the ay they were? That lady and her dog who had their heads swapped? How could they stand doing that, even for a film?"
That's when the penny began to drop for us. Ten his next question - "And what about all those people that got carbonised? How could they bring them back to life?"
In vain we tried to explain, it was all pretend. They had done such a good job on special effects, he actually believed that the mayhem and destruction had actually occurred, purely for the sake of entertainment, and we got pleasure form watching other people actually suffer and die.
We finally were able to show him, using Lord of the Rings and the "behind the Scenes" features on the DVDs, how it's made to look so real. I think it wasn't until he was in a movie himself, that he could begin to understand. He had been in a short film and done OK (apart from a major anxiety attack, for a scene which is on screen for less than second). This last film has not yet been released, so we don't know what they will have done with the sequence. He was interviewed for a "making of..." features clip, along with difficult child 1 & easy child 2/difficult child 2 (who was having a bad appendicitis attack that day).

It's been a long haul for him to not only understand, but to handle it.
Today we watched a schools program for senior English students. It's British-made, called "Arrows of Desire" and is described as 'Poets on Poems'. He's watched this before but only superficially; now he's watching it more carefully as the poets analyse some rather obscure poems at times. They have each poem presented as a mini-film and then a series of poets discuss their views on it. He keeps asking, "They're only actors, aren't they?" like he needs to be reassured. Watching it a year ago they featured Dylan Thomas's "Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night" which had difficult child 3 in floods of tears for the next few days. I know they will be showing it again - this is a repeat of the same series. We've talked about that poem since, I explained that you don't need to feel sad, the poem is not about how sad it is that someone's dying, only that the poet's father is dying and he (the poet) isn't happy about it. The only person upset about the death is the poet, not the man who is dying. He's already let go and moved on, which is what happens. But Dylan Thomas was still fairly young when he wrote it, and didn't understand. The miracle of that poem is that it contains so much emotion, and yet it is written to a mathematical formula (it's a villanelle).
Here's hoping he can handle it this year...