I know that Ryan’s interest in Wipeout was a big enough deal that some months back I set up a Google News Alert to find out when and if the show would be renewed. I forgot all about it. Ryan hasn’t been watching the show lately. We recently deleted a huge batch of reruns from the DVR because they had gone un-viewed.
But I’ve learned enough about my son to know that his passionate interests — with the noted exception of hockey — may come and go, but they don’t really leave. I have a pretty good idea that at some point, Ryan will rediscover his love of Wipeout. And when he does, he’ll be all in, just as he was before. He’ll watch the episodes backwards on DVR, so he can watch his favorite part, the Wipeout Zone, first. He’ll memorize results. He’ll have favorite contestants, and favorite obstacles. He will love the dry-wit banter between the hosts (and he’ll ask me what a lot of the jokes mean).
Mostly, I hope he’ll consent to watch the weekly début of a new episode, as that had become one of our regular family activities, one of the few beyond hockey that we all share.
I have loved some of Ryan’s obsessive interests (hockey, Wipeout) more than others (garage doors). I’ve mourned or worried about the passing of some (hockey, again), not so much others (garage doors, again). But I’ve also come to understand that these interests are a part of him, and I can no more lessen or change his focus than I can change his eye color.
What we search for as a family is common ground. The precious few interests that we share, we don’t experience them the same way. I don’t watch a hockey game the same way that Ryan does, although I’m learning to focus on some of the things that interest him. When we watch a favorite show together, Ryan may have his own take on it — watching the Wipeout episodes backwards drives Riley nuts — but there is a common thread, and it’s enough of one to provide an experience we can all share.
So, yeah, I was thrilled to get that Google News alert in my inbox this week. Ryan has yet to weigh in if he’s excited or not. But when the new season of Wipeout starts, I’ll give him a nudge and see if that interest can be sparked once again. If that means I wake up to find him watching, before school, the final round of three straight episodes on the DVR, that’s OK too — that’s just the way he wants and needs to experience things.
The more I’ve learned about my son, and about autism, the more I understand that it’s just important that we adjust to him and not always the other way around.