What has a stuffed dog got to do with Asperger’s?

Introducing Fifi

IMG_0500This is Fifi – my son’s well-loved, but ever suffering, stuffed dog. Fifi was given to my son on his second birthday – two years before he was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome.

Over the last eight years, Fifi has become more than the favourite toy; more than the only ‘family member’ who can bring my son out of a meltdown. Fifi has his own ‘world’, and it has become both a sanctuary for a little boy and a place of learning for me.

More about Fifi’s World

I have heard people describe children on the autism spectrum as ‘being in their own world’; I have also heard people say that it is wrong to use that terminology. In my son’s case, I would have to agree with the latter – he is firmly ensconced in our world, but he sees many things differently.

Through Fifi’s very own world, aptly named Fifi’s World, this floppy, grimy dog has become my son’s voice. It has taken me a while, but I have eventually come to realise that what is happening in Fifi’s World is my son’s interpretation of the things that are going on around him.

Essentially, Fifi’s World is how my son deals with the daily happenings in the confusing and confronting world in which he lives.

What is the ‘amaranthine’ journey I refer to in my tagline?

I will admit to doing a Google search to find this word. I wanted a word that suggested ‘continuous’ or ‘never-ending’ but with a less negative connotation and amaranthine popped up.

The stem of the word is ‘amaranth’ which comes from old Greek and refers to a mythical unfading flower. The adjective, amaranthine, describes something which is ongoing, yet not unpleasant. It can also allude to a purplish-red colour which, interestingly, is a colour my son was drawn to as a toddler.  So – I had to use it.

Why am I writing this blog?

To be honest, this blog would not be in existence if it wasn’t a requirement in my Professional Writing and Editing course. However, writing about my family’s Asperger’s journey is something I’ve been doing for a while and I am excited that I have been given (or should I say, forced into) this opportunity to relay our journey to other like-minded people.

Fifi’s World has given me a deeper understanding of my son – and this enlightenment is what I hope to share with you.

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4 thoughts on “What has a stuffed dog got to do with Asperger’s?

  1. Kellie – I’ve read your posts, and what you have written is very powerful. Your writing perspective is also uniquely different, and not at all soap-boxy!

    I’ve worked with students on the “spectrum” in the capacity of both teacher and integration aide (for professional development more than the money – aides are woefully underpaid). A few of the teens are very proud of being “aspy”, and are actually a little bit annoyed that they’ve been “lumped” into a spectrum. It feels as if their uniqueness has been taken away. On the other hand, when I have asked opinions of some parents about this, the reply is “don’t need a tag, he’s just Max” (or Sophie, or Brian). As you said, every person who is diagnosed along the spectrum is different from every other…just like everyone else in the world! I found a nifty quote about this a while back, but can’t locate it at the moment. Wish I could make up my own nifty quotes.

    I’m so glad to hear how well Geordie is doing. The next couple of years will hold different kinds of challenges as he moves into adolescence. As a Steiner teacher and Mum, (small school, philosophy of respect, meeting the individual where they are at, space for total learning/living with head, heart and hands, please stop me) I have witnessed some excruciating situations – perhaps all teenagers go through a spectrum-like phase, hmmm – but am so proud of my prior students and also my own 3 boys, as they have grown into a wonderful community, so supportive of each other; the things they have in common, and their valuable differences.

    Keep going with the blog – you provide much for others to chew on – and you’re spreading the word about how to be with people who are sometimes quite unlike ourselves. You’ve got an engaging style; I repeat: not soap boxy – some people find it difficult not to give the perception of being angry, or “better than thou”. But you are constructive and think outside the box! Sounds like you are Geordie are related.

    Thanks. Jo

    ps – I noticed your portfolio of writing – I really like the executive summaries. I did not look at the pieces, though; a few I haven’t tackled yet and must struggle with on my own! (Do you still have nightmares about the Copyright Module?)
    pps – my main challenge with writing is when to know it’s time to stop. Will try to keep future communications short sharp and shiny. Yeah, right.

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  2. I have a stuffed dog too which looks exactly like Fifi (except mine seems more stuffed). I often communicate with my family though toys (and I’m an adult on the spectrum), they are not just toys as I’m sure you know, they grew up with me and are my best friends 🙂

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    1. Fifi used to have more stuffing … over time it appears to have all gone down to his feet. I totally get what you mean … Geordie is very verbal, but there are times when he needs Fifi to help out. Thank you for following my blog. I am looking forward to reading more of your posts too.

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