Thursday, November 6, 2008

Regression, or New Reflections?

I was recently discussing with my friend Rebecca how Casey is totally into The Wiggles again. Her own kids are 9 and 6. They like High school Musical, Hanna Montana, and Pikachu or whatever it's called. In other words they enjoy age appropriate entertainment. Ironically, she and her hubby had just been reminisicng about how much their family enjoyed The Wiggles oh so long ago. We had even gone together to see them live about 5 years ago. But when she brought it up to the kids, they looked mesmerized, with no memory of them. It made her sad. I jokingly said something to the affect that "See, ya need a kid with Autism so you can relive this stuff over and over again."

I have noted in reading blogs of other Autism parents that many of their older kids still watch videos that technically are way too young for them. For instance I know one mom who mentioned her over 10 year old child was really into looking up "Barney" clips on YouTube. Lately, along with The Wiggles, Barney has made a reappearance in Casey's viewing repertoire as well.

At first it bothered me a little. Barney seemed okay in the day, but wow, now when I watch, it hits me how, well for a lack of a better word, queer it is. The kids over act, the songs are irritatingly catchy and everything is just so" goody two shoes". The Wigglesare pretty goofy too, but the songs are way better, and it's a bit more watchable for me. It's almost that his sudden re interest in something that he liked when he was 3 or 4 comes off as a bit of a regression.

Watch ability aside, the more I am forced to watch with him so he won't rewind certain bits and watch the accompanying previews 30 times, I am struck by how really beneficial these videos could be in some ways to him. Barney particularly offers some very basic but steady lessons in social skills. The kids are always greeting each other appropriately, friendship is a focal point, politeness is always displayed. Heck, diversity is also huge in the Barney videos, which feature African American, Hispanic, and Asian children playing together in harmony. So, really at this point in Casey's young life, how can watching this be be worse for him than watching some silly episode of Hanna Montana where the kids are overly cynical, they're usually getting in trouble for humor's sake, and everything is as basically as unrealistic as the Barney videos anyway? "Age appropriate" doesn't always mean "appropriate", that's for sure!

Casey even asks me questions about the episodes, which leads me to think he is analyzing things more, getting more out of it.
He's noticing things, like that Gregg Wiggle left at some point, or that Barney isn't around when big people are in the scene. Wow, I didn't even notice these things really. I say anything that prompts a conversation has to be good. So, I say bring on The Wiggles, bring on Barney!

My kid, as do many kids with Autism, seeks out comfort and sameness, and I think in a way he finds both in these videos. But, I think he's also discovering more, and therefore, watching these again in my opinion cannot be considered regressive, but just, reflective!