I’ve hesitated to write about this subject much because for me some parts are rather personal, however the subject can be an important part of a PDAers life and the lives of the people around them. In this blog post I will be sharing my fantasy and role play and how I use it in my life.
From a young age I have day dreamed fantasy worlds and stories based on those worlds, I can have quite a vivid imagination and especially enjoy taking worlds from TV/films and books and adapting them to fit my own creative scenarios. One of my favourite worlds is the Star Trek world. I would use the existing characters and include my own characters, making sure I kept the original characters and world as true to the original as possible. Often when reading a book I would stop and imagine myself or a character I created to barge into the story and save the characters or fix whatever was happening in the book. I guess I wanted to be the ‘big hero’ but I also don’t like watching characters I like struggling. I quite like creating new worlds but it takes me a while to imagine up it all, especially since I prefer it to be as realistic/plausible as possible, it is often easier to use an existing imagined world that others or I have created and just adapt that to what I wish to imagine happening. Due to my memory problems, I would constantly have to start over with stories because, while I am able to recall the world and characters I have created, I struggle to remember when in the story I was up to and what was happening.
I have certain worlds created for different purposes. There is one world which is just me and a therapist in a therapist’s room, this I use for problem solving. I can discuss ideas and problems I have here and pretend I am getting advice. Sort of like using an ideas board to bounce ideas off. This helps me as I am far better able to communicate in a day dream than in real life, and often the answer we are looking for is one we already have but just need time to come to terms with.
As far back as I can recall I’ve always day dreamed about being rescued from my life. I would imagine some distant relative appearing with a house all set up for me and lots of money. They would whisk me away from all my problems and make my life all better. As I’ve gotten older this type of dream has changed a little (now I imagine some distant relative has died and left me with a big house with servants and money), but the overall idea has stayed the same. Another day dream I have is that every other person on the planet disappears one day and I’m left alone, able to do whatever I want with nothing to stop me and no one to force me to do anything. While I don’t actually want my family to disappear, I do need a fair bit of alone time and I guess this day dream reflects that.
I also have a specific day dream where I have a bunch of friends in a specific world where I look the way I would prefer, I can act myself and no one judges me. I can be myself and these friends accept me and are themselves a little quirky. I day dream fun and fights, arguments and other bad things happen but this is good for me because in this world I am in charge, I am safe. I can say what I like and I don’t get hurt properly, I can end the story whenever I want to. It’s a way of exploring my feelings and desires in a safe setting where I am in charge, I decide what the other characters say and do, everything is predictable and erasable, unlike in real life.
Sometimes I create imaginary worlds and vastly different characters just to see what I can do with them and to explore how far I can push my imagination. I love to create new worlds and different stories. Taking time to escape from reality into a fictional world is a healthy hobby, that’s why books, TV programmes, films and games are so popular.
Many PDAers use role play as a way of managing demands and their life. They pretend to be animals or they believe their toys or imaginary friends are real. Parents can use this to their advantage by asking ‘Tommy the teddy if he can help Simon to get ready for bed’ or telling ‘Emily the elephant that it’s time to brush her teeth (and maybe Jess with brush hers at the same time)’. As a child I had many toys and teddies which I believed were real and had thoughts and feelings of their own. This is fairly common in Autism, with many believing objects have feelings. Even though, as an adult, I know this isn’t actually possible, I still emotionally believe that objects and toys are alive.
As a child I pretended to be a dog, I used to act like a cat too. I actually believed I had the same traits as a cat and would lie in the sun sleeping and walk on all fours in a delicate way just like a cat would. I had numerous plastic toy animals who all had personalities and my teddies all had names. While on some level I believed they were alive and existed in their own little world, I never used them to avoid demands, which some children do.
My role play mixes with my fantasy world in that I day dream I am being filmed for a TV programme on a particular topic (chores, uni work, how a PDAer manages their day), this type of role play, where I play someone being filmed, helps me complete demands as I the character I am playing (often myself) has no problems meeting demands. Sometimes I imagine I’m an alien who has to pretend to be human and do all the usual human things to ‘fit in’. This does actually make completing demands easier. I have role played on trains that I’m on my way to a book launch, I have role played that I’m an undercover agent pretending to be a uni student who is actually monitoring other uni students, I have role played a gardener who is competing for a prize in a gardening competition. Anything that needs doing demand wise can be helped along by a little imaginative role play.