Wednesday, November 5, 2014

When your kid's obesssion seeps into school

At school, Max goes by the name of...Max. Not Fireman Max, as he insists we call him. Just Max—as in, his name. Nor has he ever asked to wear the Fire Chief hat there. Up until recently, when he did his homework he or I would sign it "Max." But recently, he started wanting to write "Fireman Max."

I've let him do it, even as I've wondered whether I should. His wonderful and wise teacher hasn't said anything so I haven't yet brought it up. Given that this isn't topping my list of Things To Worry About for now, I'm pondering.

I own up to being Max's firefighter enabler. I regularly reassure him, "Yes! You're going to be a fireman when you grow up." (And inform other people of that, too, at his request.) I've let him wear his Fire Chief hat to religious services. I've driven by the fire station on weekend evenings so he can say good night to Truck 31. Although I'm not entirely letting this firefighter thing rage out of control, so to speak; I have my limits.

Yet I'm stumped on this one. Fantasizing at home is fun and fine—perhaps Max will find work at the fire station when he grows up. School, though, that's the real world. (As real world as it gets for now, anyway.) Heck, I'd like to ID as Gisele but, no. If Max were in a typical school he'd never get away with writing Fireman Max on homework or tests, and perhaps I should hold him up to that standard.

Max doesn't show signs of taking homework or schoolwork less seriously because of this fireman thing. In fact, in his class he regularly types out sentences on his speech app about his fireman aspirations, encouraging spelling, typing and communication.

This isn't one of those conundrums you can Google, although I tried and this came up:

At some point soon, I'll ask his teacher. For now, as with other parts of special needs parenting, I'm making this up as I go along.

For better and worse, so is Max.


  1. As a teacher, I think that you should not be concerned at all. Children need goals and aspirations to strive towards, and a reminder should only help to focus Max more (as you have noticed at home). I would actually encourage Fireman Max's self-identification in my classroom. I am sure if a problem crops up, his teacher will let you know.

  2. I have CP and wanted to be a surgeon when i was 11. My grandmother would roll her eyes at me and tell me i could never do it because I lack dexterity. It made me cry then but now it just makes her seem silly and cruel. The older i got, plenty of other things about me made the surgeon thing seem unlikely - first and foremost that I am the most squeamish person alive. I found something that fit me -- the real me - and forgot a medical career....but if I had really lovved medicine i hope my teachers and family would have helped me find my niche there somewhere. Millions of people have to compromise to find a match between their abilities and demands of different careers but that comes later. Kids and teens get to dream - disability or not.

  3. My E. did this for years; he still sometimes will write something like "the dominator", or put Nintendo logos in the margins, and his computer obsession is prevalent regularly. The best things is to bring this concern to his teachers and see what they say. They have undoubtedly seen it before, and have an idea of what to let be and what to gradually ease him out of.

    I can tell you that according to the Floortime/Greenspan theory of behavioral development, as well as others, the best work comes from joining the child in his or her obsessions/interests and pushing them just enough within that, because that is where they are motivated. It is likely that his teachers are using this instead of being opposed to it.

  4. As I am studying special education and also have disabilities I would think that a conference might be helpful with the school to see if this is causing any social or academic concerns. Sometimes children with disabilities blur the lines of reality and fantasy which impact social development, but as it is a school that works specifically with disabilities (children with disabilities are more apt at having a hard time seeing the line) I am sure that they are working well with him. It is good that it does not seem to impact his learning (from what I read) but it might be something that can cause social isolation as he gets older, especially if you want him to "blend" so to speak (sorry I have no other better word!) with him typical peers. All you can do is talk about it and then they will definitely have resources for you to work with Max about his Fireman Interest. Maybe there are other ways he can focus on the interest at this age (reading books, watching movies) if it is deemed not appropriate? I would probably speak with his pediatrician as well.

  5. I would ask his teacher for her opinon.

  6. As the high-schooler in rainbow knee-highs, I say to go with it, but translate it into more a age-appropriate style. My rainbow socks aid me socially because they make me more noticeable for who I am.

  7. As a teacher of students with special needs of varying degrees I personally would say who cares. More specifically I would probably say, "Rock on, Fireman Max!" If he isn't insisting on anything that is actually disrupting the learning in the classroom, I don't see how it is a big deal. I also agree with the above comment about the teacher letting you know if it is a problem, in the meantime I would let it go.


Thanks for sharing!

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