Thursday, January 12, 2012

Campaign for Presents Continues

With my son ramping up his campaign to get more presents, it is interesting to what he is excited about.

One of presents he always looks forward to getting on his birthday is Ugly Dolls. He has already amassed quite a collection. The company that makes them is constantly putting out new dolls so there is no end to how many Kai can get. Ahead of Christmas and Hanukkah, and now once again ahead of his birthday, Kai goes on the Ugly Dolls website every day to look at the entire inventory. Though there are now over a hundred dolls, he has memorized the names of all of them, as well as the year each came out. He also knows what new dolls are due out later this year.

What I find interesting is that the anticipation of getting a new doll seems to far outweigh the joy of actually having one. These days he rarely plays with the dolls he has. And, anyway, it’s not like he would do much of the imaginative play with these dolls that typical kids would. So the thrill for him seems to be all in the chase, and once he has a new doll, he starts looking forward to the next one. I’m not sure if that is an autism thing, a guy thing, a collector thing, or just a Kai thing.

Another thing that he is obsessing over these days is one of his favorite gifts from Christmas 2010. Electronic Snap Circuits is a toy that teaches kids the basics about electronics. The set that Kai received enables kids to “build over 300 exciting projects.” Back when he received it, Kai was really into it for several weeks, doing several projects a day.

But lately he hadn’t played with it in months. Now though, thinking of his upcoming birthday, he’s taken interest in it once again. He declared that he wanted the upgrade set that would allow him to do 500 projects. He Googled it and looks at the product’s website every day, being sure to show it to me. When I mentioned that he hadn’t yet finished his first 300 projects, he started to work on them once again. At least with this toy, I know that he will likely play with it after he gets it, and it is educational so it will be good for him.

Legos is another toy that had been idle for months. He had a few sets from his last birthday that had been unopened. But after our recent trip to Legoland, Kai has taken a renewed interest. He wanted to get more sets. When I pointed out that he still had several that he hadn’t worked on, he set to work on them. Now he’s just about caught up and wants more RIGHT NOW.

In seeing all of this activity over presents, I wonder if the use of rewards from all the ABA therapy he’s had has made it harder for Kai to wait for things. In ABA, positive reinforcement is often used to motivate a child to do something that is difficult for him. In many cases, the rewards were given immediately. He rarely had to wait for weeks to collect on something. And for a child who has always had a lot of difficulty waiting for even 5 minutes, the notion of waiting 5 more weeks is very difficult.

For those of you with younger kids, I encourage you to try to stretch out the rewards with your kids while they are still young. It likely won’t be very easy. But it doesn’t get easier as they get older.


  1. I don't know if you have already looked at K'nex building sets. It incorporates erector and electrical sets into one. You can build working roller coasters, robots...etc. You use electrical motors, gearing, structural supports, lights...etc. It looks like great fun.

  2. He actually just got his first K'nex set for Christmas... a roller coaster... which was really neat. Kai enjoyed it, though Mom had to help him with it quite a bit. He's probably another year or so away from doing them independently, but for now it's a great parent-child activity.


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