Saturday, February 1, 2014

The Kettle Is On...Must Supervise

Obsessions and compulsions are a typical part of ASDs, but they play out differently and with different intensities in each person.  They are about as unique as the individual.  One of the most common questions I have been asked when talking to someone about my sons' diagnosis has been:  "So, does he line up his stuff all the time?".  I must admit, it makes me chuckle, because the question is very stereotypical.

The answer is always; no, he doesn't.  He has lined things up from time to time, but so rarely that I usually grab the camera to take a pic because it's so cute.  My son is not a neat freak (thank God!  'Cause my house ain't neat most of the time!), and doesn't have to have his things set up in any particular order, but he certainly does have his patterns, obsessions and compulsions.

Eating and drinking...
He has a regular spot to sit at when it comes to eating.  Be it at the dinner table, the bench, or grandma's house.  He will only eat breakfast out of one particular bowl, but lunch and dinner can be out of anything.  He will rarely drink out of anything except his drink bottle or the Ikea plastic coloured cups.  No glasses, no straws, no fancy plastic cups.

The same route must be taken when we drive to various places, although he is now starting to relax with this.

Parking at certain spots at the local shopping centre means that we must then enter through certain doors.  If we ever park at one spot and enter through a different door, the boy is not happy.

Some of the most frustrating, and arguably, funniest compulsions that he has basically boil down to him having to 'supervise' certain events in our home...

If someone puts the kettle on, Erik will cease whatever he is doing - be it eating, iPad, dressing or showering, even playing outside if he hears it - to stand in front of the kettle and remain there until it clicks off.  When he first started doing this, he would scream and cry - not because the sound upset him, but because the kettle had interrupted whatever he was doing.  He couldn't help being compelled to attend to it, even if it meant missing his favourite song on TV.

Mummy put the kettle on!

For a long time, if a toilet was flushed - upstairs or downstairs - he would run to the couch and sit on the back rest until he could not hear it anymore.  This drove me crazy when trying to get him ready in the mornings (Can you imagine?  A household of eight getting ready for the day - those toilets are going to be flushing a lot!).  Mercifully, this compulsion is slowly relaxing.

When someone is in the shower, he tries to get into the bathroom, just to hang around in there until the water turns off.  The amount of times my poor daughters have had the door burst open on them...!  If the door is locked, he will wait outside the door until the shower is turned off.  But while ever the water is running, you cannot move him from that spot!

Outside the bathroom door while Daddy showers. 

The microwave is another compulsion he has.  Anytime someone uses it, he drops what he is doing - just like he does for the kettle - and runs over to supervise whatever is being zapped in that microwave.  He has also discovered that it has numbers which count down to one, and that is a real perk for him.  Sometimes I hear him saying the numbers as they come up on the little screen.  Recently, he worked out how to make the microwave go all by himself.  I would often hear the microwave turn on, and dash over to find it running with nothing inside, and Mr Man watching the numbers in delight.  He managed to fry one microwave already doing this.  We have learnt that switching it off at the wall is a good idea.

What happens when all of the above are going on at once...?
Occasionally, we have a few of these things going at once.  At first he would stress out because he couldn't attend to everything.  Poor little tacker; that was frustrating to watch.  But recently, it seems to me that he has worked out a system of priority.  Microwave takes precedence over the kettle.  Microwave or kettle take precedence over the shower.  And the toilet flush has become something he may or may not respond to anymore.

If Erik has been put to bed, or is asleep, and happens to hear any one of these things, it is very likely that he will run out of his room to attend to the incident... bleary eyed and annoyed.  And so I have to admit, I have often taken to boiling water for my coffee on the stovetop,  or making people wait until he is sound asleep to use the microwave or kettle, or closing all possible doors between the bathroom and his room when there is a shower going!  Because sometimes, you just have to choose your battles!


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