Children With Autism and Obsessions
What obsessions do our kids have?
My son’s latest obsession is a strong desire to meet new dogs.
We have a dog. We had two dogs until last May when we had to put down our 15 1/2 year old.
What was it like to put the dog down?
We made sure to include our son when we were putting our dog to sleep. He had known that dog his whole life and we wanted him to not only be able to say goodbye to her properly, but to learn that owning a dog (or most other animals) means having to deal with their death.
He did a great job of saying goodbye.
How and when did the new dog obsession begin?
His dog obsession surfaced soon after the death of our old dog. My son got it into his head that he wanted to meet new dogs, all the time.
It started with a neighborhood dog.
On the walk to school, he wanted to say “hi” to this one dog, a friendly pit bull. Then, there was another neighborhood dog. Then, another.
At home, he began to talk about them and look them up on the Internet (a clear sign of the beginning of an obsession).
The next thing I knew, the new obsession was in place.
It came with a new routine.
What routine was connected to this new obsession?
Amazingly enough, it was a social routine. It is about children with autism and obsessions, but more so.
My son had to learn a new social skill. He had to learn how to approach strangers and ask them certain questions and not just go up to a strange dog, owner or not, and start to pet it.
Plus, he not only had to ask questions, but he had to listen to other people.
What questions did he have to learn?
I gave him a script.
First, I taught him to ask the person if their dog is friendly.
Second, I insisted he ask the dog owner if it was okay if he pet the dog.
This routine did not develop overnight. Early on, I had to intervene because my son was not listening to the dog owner say when he said, “You shouldn’t pet my dog.” Instead, he was attempting to pet the dog.
Most people were nice to my son, and even enjoyed the attention by this cute kid. I think dog owners in general like it when they and their dog get attention. They like dogs and they like to talk about dogs.
Plus, most breeds of dogs are naturally receptive to humans. “Mans best friend!”
Then, my son’s obsession began to really develop.
To read more about autism and obsessions, read here:
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