My daughter loves animals. Let me clarify...my daughter is OBSESSED with animals. One of the aspects of Aspergers - it's her "passion".
When she was a toddler, we bought her plastic animals in bulk to play with and she would spend hours organizing them in a marching waves across the tv room floor. The penguins in front, polar bears off to the side - so they wouldn't eat the penguins - monkeys pushing up the rear.
As a Jewish mom I didn't let it throw me. I just thought, "so, she'll be a vet." (Hey, there's good money in animal care.)
Today we were in the car on the way home from someplace air-conditioned and we started talking about animals. Izzy wanted to know what kind of animal I thought she was most like. First I said "Bird." She liked that. Then I said "Wait, Squirrel." She liked that more. Then I thought "hmm...here is an opportunity to use her "passion" to tell her something great about herself - to INSPIRE her." So I said "No...you're like a leopard! You're brave, you're fast and you're incredibly smart!"
She smiled but said "You know, mom, I know a girl who spent the whole school year pretending to be a possum! Now that's awesome!" Obviously, she didn't care so much about the animal's actual traits, but rather was Wowed by the fact that this girl could pull off being a possum for a whole year.
I have to say, I'm impressed by that kid too. The level of commitment is astounding. A whole year - probably spent mostly upside down on the monkey bars. I too was Wowed and satisfied that the possum story sent a positive message.
After all, it takes a lot of commitment to become a vet.