Thursday, August 19, 2010

Connect Four

I took C.S. to meet a new therapist today—his second, we’re therapist dating right now. To get started, they played Connect Four. Meanwhile the therapist asked questions, C.S. answered and I eavesdropped from the waiting room.

Therapist: “Who do you like to play games with most?”
C.S.: “My Mom,” (I smiled) “but she’s better than me.”

It happens, I had played Connect Four with him recently and I didn’t let him win. I wanted to show him how I could predict where he would play a chip just as he could make a prediction about the moves I would be most likely to make to win. I beat him to teach him because C.S. does not make good predictions and has trouble taking the perspective of others but he loves gaming … so if he’s going to give these skills a go, he’d do it to win.

The therapist let him win … four times in a row. After all, he wasn’t interested in teaching lessons yet, he just wanted to talk and get to know him. After the first win, C.S. was thrilled, what kid wouldn’t be. After the second win, I overheard C.S. celebrate and then excitedly explain how he had won, how he had made a prediction. (Great to hear that my earlier lesson may have sunk in a little bit.) The third time he won, he reassured the therapist, “I’m just really good at games. My Mom says so.” By the fourth time, although C.S. was still just as excited about his win, he suggested they play a different game.

Therapist: “Why? Don’t you want to play anymore?”
C.S.: “I want to keep playing but maybe we should try a different game. I’m just really good at this one.”
Therapist: “You are. So why don’t we play one more time.”
C.S.: “I don’t want you to get upset, because you’re not winning.”

That’s my sweet boy. And that’s a hard to understand aspect of his PDD. Even though 1) he has trouble discerning plain fact from fantasy much less the not-so-subtle, slight-of-hand as being allowed to win, 2) he has trouble reading expressions, and 3) he does not take the perspective of others, and yet 4) he consistently displays remarkable empathy.

Eventually I’ll make all these connections make sense. Until then, the wonderful way C.S. not only looks out for his friends and family but also is quick to champion them is something I truly love about my overly-sensitive, rule-oriented son. He just can’t stand for anyone to be sad. More than once he has turned out to be the unexpected silver-lining to someone’s dark cloud.

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