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  • Writer's pictureBarbara Kaminski, Ph.D., BCBA-D, LBA(VA)

Kids Do Strange Things: Exploring Autism and Childhood Behaviors

Updated: Dec 21, 2023


As parents of neurotypically-developing kids will attest, their kids do strange and weird things. Seriously, kids are weirdos. Here are some stories that I collected from staff about things they did as a kid (or family members have done):



If you aren’t familiar with the movie Happy Feet, it’s about a penguin that loves to tap his feet and dance around instead of making penguin sounds. I saw this movie as a kid and was enamored. For the next, I don’t know probably 6 months, I would tap my feet heel to toe as rapidly as possible whenever I was standing still, which drove my mom up the freaking wall. 


I violently refused to wear matching socks or hats. 

 


My sister was obsessed with trains, it was the only thing she talked about when she was like 4. Not just Thomas the tank but steam engines in general. We seriously rented the same steam engines DVD from the library so many times until they let us keep it. I remember my dad would answer spam calls and tell my sister to tell them how trains worked, which she would do until they hung up. 

 


As a kid I told my new friend that I was a witch and would lie about having powers and take credit for stuff that happened. Someone we don't like was home sick for a day? I'd wink and say "you're welcome" during roll call. Snow day on a test day? Also me. I moved a lot and really wanted her to be my friend but I also really wanted/hoped I had latent magical powers that would develop as I got older. After watching Matilda, I'd even have training sessions where I tried to move paper with my mind. It is now 2 decades later, she and I are still best friends, and she knows I'm not a witch. 


I loved sour foods growing up, like to the point of eating lime wedges. One day, I heard my aunt had intense cravings for sour foods when she was pregnant. So, I concluded I was pregnant too and was really scared about being a 5-year-old mother. 

 

I was 7 yrs old and had chicken pox.  My mom bought me a sticker book where I found the outline of the dog and placed the correct sticker there.  She also bought me a beautiful red nail polish! Both were a real treat, especially the nail polish!  After doing my nails at the dining room table, I thought to myself "This would look great on my lips like a lipstick!"  So, I applied the nail polish to my lips.  Boy, did it burn, and it was difficult to wipe off!  The tissue kind of stuck to the nail polish.  Well, lesson learned.  Sometimes you have to learn the hard way!



One day when I was in the 5th grade, my dad was watching tv and relaxing in his recliner, and was ignoring me, kind of just saying "Ah huh", to me as I was talking to him.  I started to play with his hair and on his bald stop with my finger.  As he kept ignoring me, I went and got a marker and drew a happy face on his bald spot.  I started to really laugh hard and this, of course, got his attention.  I suddenly had his full attention and he asked me, "What did you do?"  Needless to say, he didn't laugh as hard as I did!  

I went through a brief period in 6th grade where everything I owned had to be covered in duct tape. Michael’s craft store got so much of my allowance, but I collected all of the tie dye duct tape. 


My son always liked when dad watched the football game. A, the garage was made into the "man cave". There was a window on the side of it, and every time football came on, Jayden would go out and sit beside it, because he knew daddy was going to say a lot curse words. Especially if dad's team was losing.  


On a beach trip with my 4-year-old twins, one twin found a barnacle on the beach. On the ride home, with the two of them in their respective car seats, his brother kept reaching over, trying to grab the barnacle out of his hand. To keep it away from his brother, he popped the barnacle into his mouth. And bit down on it. And that is the origin of the story of when he “ate a barnacle.”



I am sure that you have stories from your own childhood that you could add to these stories, I sure do. Keep those stories in mind next time your own child does something “unusual.” Every child has special interests. They all have “quirks.” They need to make and learn from mistakes. Often a kid, on the spectrum or not, is just “being a kid” with all of the glorious wonder that entails.

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