Jacob’s Interests

Jacob loved his mining-crafting video game with a passion. He felt like he could play all day without noticing the passage of time, even though he knew he shouldn’t give in to that temptation. He worked on time management to make sure he didn’t get swept away by his obsession with this game, but he still spent several hours on it every day.

His dad didn’t understand

His dad didn’t understand why Jacob liked a game where all the images were so basic, like blocks. He wondered why Jacob ignored the game his grandparents gave him for his birthday, the one with beautiful scenery and images that look so lifelike. Every time he brought it up again, Jacob said, “You don’t understand!”

One day his father said, “You’re right, I don’t. Why don’t you explain it to me?”

Jacob had never been asked to talk about why he loved his game before. He thought about it for a while to try to put his feelings into words. Finally, after he had gathered his thoughts, he said, “There are three benefits to my game as compared to those pretty games with all the artistic scenery. One is that I can go as far as I want through the game universe and keep on creating more and more things. There are no limits, really, to how far I can go and how much I can craft in this game. The pretty games have boundaries. They put so much into making it pretty that you can only go so far, and no farther.”

“I never realized that,” said his father.

“Also, I guess I like the predictability of my game. Every item, every animal, every plant and building are all built from uniform cubes. You know what to expect, and there’s no real surprises and no messiness about it.” Jacob went on to demonstrate his game to his father, showing him the things he had crafted and the places he’d gone. “Not only that,” he added, “but in my game, I am in complete control. In real life, that never happens, but here I am in charge.”

“Thanks for sharing this with me,” his father said. “I had no idea. This is much cooler than I thought it was by glancing at your screen. There’s a lot more than meets the eye.”

An understanding

Jacob was glad that his father seemed to understand. It felt good. This was a passion he knew he had to control in order to have a balanced life, but one that he would never give up.

A Passion for the Planet

Jacob had another strong interest he would never give up, and that was the environment. When he read about the melting polar caps and disappearing ozone layer, he got angry at humans for messing up a perfectly good planet, the only one we had. He would rant and rave about the stupidity of the people who continued to harm the environment until he got himself all wound up. When he felt overwhelmed he would go play his game, where he controlled his world.

After another long rant to his parents about the environment, his mother asked him, “Why don’t you do something about it, instead of complaining?”

“I can’t fix the environment by myself! Everybody has to change how we do things to reduce our impact. One person can’t make it happen!”

“Maybe you can’t do everything, but you can do one thing. What can you do?”

How to make a difference?

Jacob thought about that long and hard. He started researching online to find out what one person could do to help save the environment, and there were actually a lot of suggestions. He knew switching to reusable straws wasn’t enough. He wanted to reach out to more people. Jacob decided to start a blog about helping the planet. He would share about the tips he had found online, link back to them, and encourage readers to follow the suggestions in their own lives. Writing about his feelings about the planet was a great outlet for Jacob, rather than ranting to his parents. He learned early on to delete comments that were hurtful or were probably bots trying to sell get-rich-quick schemes, but he replied to the positive comments. A few of them even became online friends. Their shared love for the planet was a strong connection.

Jacob’s Interests Solutions

It worked for Jacob to explain to his father why he loved his games so much, and then invite his dad to play the games with him. His other solution was to start a blog about saving the planet rather than just getting worked up about it without doing anything.

Jacob’s stories originally appeared in the first edition of Wendela Whitcomb Marsh’s book, Independent Living with Autism: Your Roadmap to Success. (Revised as Independent Living While Autistic: Your Roadmap to Success, Book One of the Adulting While Autistic series.) Jacob is a fictional character, not based on anyone, so any similarities to real people are coincidental.


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