For many of us, there is rarely a dull moment in motherhood. The currently popular “zombie craze” only adds to the madness for me. Like many children with autism, my son gets “stuck” on things that he likes.

I’m not referring to the typical Telletubbie or Barney phases that might last for a year and you just kind of get past it, knowing that they will move on to something else soon. When Hunter gets stuck, it can last for years. The obsession is not limited to toy and movie preference, he lives and breathes it.

In his lifetime, we had the 4-year Spongebob phase. His bedding, movies, tv shows, toys, clothing, and every birthday party, all invaded by the one who is “yellow, absorbent and porous!” Next came the combo Transformers/Hot Wheels stage. Bumblebee was king of the house, and anyone who disagreed MUST be a Decepticon.

About a year and a half ago, we entered the zombie/Michael Jackson phase. The first time Hunter saw the Thriller video, he was in love. I realized that he had memorized all of the words and speaking parts after seeing it only a couple of times. After several more views, he had all of the dance moves down. He brought his stuffed monkey to school for show and tell the following day, and the monkey did the Thriller dance for the class. A few days later, I learned that he had taught the entire 3rd grade at his school Thriller during PE class. This was incredibly charming initially; however, as he perfected Michael’s moves, things became problematic. I then had to have the parent-teacher conference about how it is not appropriate for my son to be grabbing his crotch at school, even IF it is MJ’s signature move. While I was slightly mortified that I had not even thought about what mimicking the King of Pop might entail, I also had to deal with teaching my son (who has limited social skills) WHY this was not appropriate.


Hunter sees the world differently, he has no concept of why he can’t imitate Michael, repeat just any movie line or phrase that he hears, hug everyone and tell them that he loves them (even strangers), or point out what he simply sees as the facts. One of our biggest challenges currently is trying to help Hunter transition into society, without stifling his big personality. Is it even possible to allow him to indulge in his current passion for Thriller and zombies (which unfortunately entails lots of moaning, walking with arms outstretched and one leg dragging behind him while “hunting for brains”), while at the same time trying to teach him what is considered socially acceptable behavior? Each night, my biggest hope is that he will just wake up in the morning “unstuck.” In the meantime, we will deal with the day to day adventures that come with a moonwalking zombie!