Thursday, January 16, 2014

Comfort in the weeds

At the dinner for dads of kids on the spectrum last night, partly to suck oxygen away from the brash new dad who was dominating discussion, I asked the group's facilitator (whom we really want to hear more of anyway, as he's been in the field for decades and is a font of wisdom) if he could bucket up the 3 to 5 categories of things that motivate kids/people on the spectrum.  The was after he had interjected that guys at the table were projecting their own neurotypical ways of thinking about motivation onto their kids, for whom these mindsets weren't applicable at all.  I just wanted to keep the mike in his hand.

So he listed them out, and they were categories I was used to, but I hadn't thought of them as motivators as much as preferences or just attributes.  For instance, structure and routine, visual cues, and facts and detail.

And that last one got me to thinking.  I too have shown a marked preference for facts and detail throughout my life.  From reading encyclopedias and memorizing sports stats (including the baseball cards of pretty obscure people) to knowing dates in history, which gave it structure. Later in life, in the for-profit realm, I've done well as the detail guy on projects, but at times was accused of "majoring in the minors," which was the owners of the consulting firm where I worked way of saying that I wasn't rising up to the big picture, putting myself in the client's shoes, and thinking more strategically.  And I think that was a fair criticism, which I worked to get past.

The fact is, there is comfort in the details for me.  Things that can be memorized can be mastered.  So, right now, studying for the CFP also offers some of that, a discrete, testable set of material with lots of details.

Last night I wanted to ask the group leader if he thought that people on the spectrum preferred facts because it offered them the possibility of mastery, or even of dominance, but I didn't want to be too pushy with the flow of conversation.  And then the guy with the big mouth got wound up again.

Ahh well.  My seafood pasta was delicious.

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