Monday, November 15, 2010

The Progression of Obsessions

    Every child with autism seems to be obsessed with certain items so I thought I would map out Sierra's obsessions over time.

    The first thing I remember Sierra becoming hyper focused on was a blue bird on her bouncer chair, she couldn't reach it at first or the thing you pulled to make it spin but you could tell she just had to have it!  When she could reach it, she would grab hold of it with a death grip and just stare at it!

    The next obsession was the Backyardigans.  She would stop everything if they came on or if she saw a picture of them.  Even a meltdown would cease if they were on, of course we used that to our advantage! That was as early as 7 or 8 months and that obsession is still going strong till this day!

    The next thing I noticed Sierra was obsessed with was water, but that wasn't as bad as the others.  She is still drawn to water as are many other children with autism.  We are trying to teach her how to swim because I am worried about her going across the street to the pool or pond one day and drowning.

    Now this next one was hard to deal with!  Stairs....anytime Sierra saw a set of stairs she had to climb up and down over and over and over!!!!  We had to start mapping our route to avoid stairs, we never realized how many sets of stairs were around until we started to avoid them!  She was doing this soon after she could walk at 11months.  I would say she stopped this one altogether, although I couldn't say when, it just dwindled off.

     Around the time we were thinking of having Sierra evaluated, about 18 months, she started with fish and Christmas trees.  The Christmas trees won over the fish when we went to the aquarium and they had a tree around every corner!!  We spent forever just looking at the trees and not the fish.  She is still very drawn to these but she can easily be redirected from them now.

    I am not sure when this one actually started I think around the same time as the fish and trees.  Toy figures, all shapes and sizes.  Sierra loves toy figures and small stuffed characters as well. She loves ones from the shows that she watches, but she also loves ones that are not.  Sierra does not disciminate, all toy figures are welcome!  During the height of her lining things up, she would have them doing a conga line all the way around the table!  I wish I took a picture of that, it was so funny!  I would say the figures are still her biggest obsession, even over the Backyardigans.

    Pirates and Super heroes, I believe the pirates started with the Backyardigans, one episode Sierra loved was when they were pirates.  The super heroes are more recent, anything with a mask and cape she is instantly drawn to.  I had to make her a mask and cape because she would pretend to have them by placing one hand over her eyes for the mask and one hand waving behind her to signify the cape.  It was so funny but I couldn't let her go on like that!

    Vending machines, all vending machines by the front door of a store.  When we go to the store we have to stop by the vending machines for Sierra to push the buttons and the gumball machines for me to tell her what is in them.  She doesn't ask for anything she just wants to know what is in them or if they have a button for her to push.  This is one that has started recently and it has become a routine now.  When we go to Walmart we stop at the vending machines first, then we go to the fish section to look at fish, then to the toys for her to play with, and then we go where we went there for.  Walmart always takes forever!

    This last one, is one that makes me want to strangle the store employees, only because we can not get her out of a store if she sees them.  These are also toy figures, but the little wind up ones you see in toy stores and book stores.  They put them by the door or checkout, so you can't leave without buying them!  I wouldn't mind buying one, but there are about 20 different ones and they charge 5 dollars a piece!  Sierra can not decide which one she wants and she has to try everyone a couple of times.  Damn you stores for placing them where my child will see them!!! j/k

    Obsessions come and go and some are here to stay, but as long as she is not doing any harm we try to go with the flow!


  1. Brycen's obsession is trains. He has had this obsession since he was about a year old and long before he even started regressing. The autism just made the obsession so much more "obsessive" to him.
    Just like you are with water, I am terrified of what could happen if Brycen wandered away and found a train track. He's scared of many loud noises, but has never been scared of a train whistle and other noises. We have sat at many train tracks in the car with our windows down and it never bothers him.
    So while these simple obsessions can be great from one way, they can also be very scary from a different way.
    By the way, I think the vending machine one is funny and wonder what her expression would be if something actually came out when she pushed a button:)

  2. I don't want to think about when she realizes she can have what's in the machine. I can just imagine having to get something every time we see one!