Back to the series: VHS to DVD – the Saga
When I was younger, we owned so many video tapes of Disney films that I can name the only three I never owned – Dumbo, Beauty and the Beast and the Little Mermaid. My parents love movies, so we had 3 cupboards and 3 drawers full of tapes; films, documentaries, music and of course my Disney collection.
When Chris came along I obviously shared everything with him. It wasn’t until he got to 4-5 years old that I started regretting my decision. Like every little brother I’m guessing, he had a knack for breaking my things. It started off innocently enough with Barbies, my Game boy. The cassette thing started with the video player breaking, which he was responsible for also. If he didn’t like the way the cassette went in he would do it until it felt right. He pushed ALL the buttons. He also liked to rewind them while they were still playing. So he would play the entire movie, and then rewind the entire thing so that he could watch it go backwards. Needless to say that this sometimes caused the tape to break, so he would take the ENTIRE tape out and then cry when we couldn’t fix it. Then came the period when he wanted all the plastic covers to be perfect so he would take scissors and trim the bits that weren’t glued on properly – because he frayed them from using them every day. Then, if the cut wasn’t straight of perfectly aligned with the plastic he cut it more, or made us do it; and then he would cry when it was destroyed and had to be thrown out. We eventually had to make new labels for all the cassettes.
Then came the DVDs. But why?; Why do we have to use these new things?; I want to watch it on a cassette; I don’t want to watch it on that; NO! Once he figured out how to use the DVD player the same problems began – the rewinding, the forwarding, the scene selections, the plastic, the covers. The DVD is scratched?; BUT WHY?; Why won’t it go away when me and my entire family have washed it (yes, washed with soap) and wiped it 10 times? The arguments went on for days. It was a constant battle, a constant need for perfection, a constant need for the cut or DVD wipe to be approved. It didn’t do any good explaining that the DVD was now not working, that the scratch couldn’t be removed, that you need to stop pausing or rewinding it every second. We had no way of explaining to him that it was inevitable, it had to happen over and over again, every day for months. Of course, we got frustrated; personally, I snapped a disk in half once just to put an end to the wiping; the look on his face when I did that was priceless – for a second, then he went upstairs and got me another one.
As he grew older and realised that this is just what happens he let it go. There is the occasional time or two when he’ll bring it up and then the nightmares come flooding back; but its so much easier to explain it to him now. It’s much easier for him to compromise, he just had to learn the lesson himself – there’s absolutely no point in pressuring them to understand it, they’ll do it when and if they can/want. Much like what he wanted to watch. There were months when he would watch the Lion King every day at my nans. It was the cartoon he would watch there, there was no changing his mind; his routine was going to nans, eating soup or pasta and then going upstairs to watch the Lion King. My granpa still jokes that he knows every single line from the Lion King to this day. Now, I can’t even put the Lion King on, he won’t let me. I used to buy him DVDs from England for his birthday, he would take them, hide them and refuse to watch them for months. We would play them so that me and my mum would watch them and he would run up, switch it off and yell at us. Then, in a few weeks, months, or maybe a year he would take it from its hiding place and ask me to watch it with him.
It seems that the point of this story is to let them be, take their time, do things their way; it’s not. Don’t let them fall into a routine; take them out of their comfort zone; even though they might not understand – don’t stop explaining.
A life with Autism is a life of constant battles, some you win and some you lose, but you fight each and every one of them – It’s the circle of life after all.