Autism Spectrum Australia

Pop fiction

  • Posted: 12/06/2014
  • Author: Thomas Kuzma
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Hola readers, I hope you are ready for another episode of Aspire! This past week has been like chewing gum while camping, extra intense! The Electronic Entertainment Expo is happening in America and there are video games galore. I also had to say goodbye to one of my favourite comedians, Rik Mayall. After seeing everyone he had played I started thinking, why do we become so invested in fictional worlds and characters?

A professional Opinion

Fighting through Balrogs, Rancors and Dinobots I managed to see Tom Tutton in a Temple of Doom. I asked him about what pop culture and fiction meant to those on the spectrum.

“Pop culture interests provide a means for people on the spectrum to engage with others with the same interest, to have some well-earned down time, to show off their knowledge and to find a place where they are skilled and respected.

There’s an old autism information sheet called ’10 things you can teach using Thomas the Tank Engine’. The philosophy behind this worksheet is that that by engaging in people’s interests, you can teach a whole range of other skills from turn taking to emotional recognition to fine motor skills. The same is true for lots of pop culture interests: Pokemon, Minecraft, Lord of the Rings, Angry Birds, World of Warcraft, Dungeons & Dragons, Star Wars etc can all be great vehicles, teaching things if parents have the time to really engage.

I think it’s very important for parents to spend time with your child, engaging with their interests at their level. It’s a great opportunity to connect, maintain a positive relationship and develop an understanding of what kids like and why. You may also learn something!

There are many situations where having a strong interest in a pop culture topic should be encouraged and celebrated. Occasionally, normal strong interests can develop into an obsession that has an impact on a person’s or their families’ quality of life. It’s only in these situations where I think we need to act. Within the context of sharing interests and quality time together parents can have a greater influence to shape and put some reasonable limits around obsessions without necessarily trying to stop them. The key is to work out the reason underlying the interest becoming an obsession – it may be that bullying is an issue or simply a person is isolated at school and thus engages in the interest in the absence of social opportunities. It may seem counter intuitive sometimes but you can encourage the obsession, while linking it with a social situation – there is an increase in topic specific clubs which reflects this idea. There are Minecraft clubs, Lego clubs and more, that harness people’s interests and use them to develop social links and networks.”

My Two Cents

I have had thousands of different obsessions during my short life time. In the nineties I was a fan of Thomas the Tank engine and Animals of Farthing Wood (basically an animal version of Game of Thrones). During primary school it was Crash Bandicoot, Spyro the Dragon, Beast Wars and Pokemon. High school came and I was an expert on Ratchet and Clank and Transformers. Even though I still enjoy some of these things today I am constantly evolving. I’m an avid watcher of Community, Archer and just started watching Breaking Bad.

I guess one of the problems growing up was that I never knew when to shut up. Babcia told me that when I was 2 I wouldn’t stop playing with one girl’s trains, she got so mad she forced me to marry her. I still send her alimony payments today. I always had to learn everything I obsessed over; I ruined a friendship because I kept asking my friend about the levels, weapons and gadgets in Ratchet and Clank.

I was really upset when I found out Rik Mayall died. I didn’t have many friends in high school but his crude and hilarious characters kept me laughing. Even if they were a bit waddical and over dwamatic

As time has gone on I have learnt to hold back with my obsessions. However I screamed when I saw the trailer for the Ratchet and Clank movie trailer . I guess what I have learnt from my friends like Amanda, Marko, Benji, Lauren, Sid and Jenna is that even though we may become emotionally invested in fictional characters, we must remember our friends in real life. The time we spend with them is better than any adventure played in 1080p.

In conclusion

There is a Chinese philosophy known as ‘Yin and Yang’. The ancient Chinese people believed that these two concepts were used to describe how opposite or contrary forces are actually complementary. They interact, connecting and relating to each other. That is how I perceive it to be with the world of fiction, sci-fi, fantasy and pop culture with the world that we live in.

Take a look at what Star Trek has given us. If it weren’t for William Shatner’s communicator we wouldn’t have mobile phone. The Simpsons have given us a 3 letter word for doing something idiotic, Do’h! Darth Vader showed us that wearing black leather and having breathing problems make you look cool.

So as I pontificate towards the end of this blog I am sure you are asking yourself, “Why has Thomas been posting these strange fabric photos”. These are photos of the costume I am wearing to this year’s SUPANOVA! These photos are from the costume that I had an incredible amount help from two lovely ladies, I am sure you would think I was jumping from pillar to pillar (last week’s answer)! So stay tuned for next week’s blog where I talk about my adventures at Supanova! You will hear everything from cosplaying to arguing which video game console is better, Xbox one, Wii U, PS4 or if they are a part of the PC MASTER RACE. So what kind of pop culture things do you enjoy? Let us know in the comments below!

 

Try and figure out the riddle below before next week folks. Until then, Till all are one, I want to be the very best, if not, Aye Carumba! But don’t despair, may the force be with you! 

What am I?

I am seen almost everywhere

On clothes, minus socks and underwear

Being pressed pressed, sown, eaten or undone

I’m a Delicious treat or nuclear destruction.

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Pop fiction