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aspergers and obsessions, fuel or distract?

As you know from my previous post Isaac has possible aspergers. He has an obsession with numbers and letters. Numbers in particular is a big obsession. He Will talk about them, write them etc. He finds the numbers in everything! For example scooting on a patio. He stopped on every slab and told me the number. Counting from 1 each time. Or he Will sit with a calculator doing sums for at least an hour. He can recognise numbers past 1000! And he is 3yrs 5m.

Basically do i fuel this obsession and let him play with a calculator, or playing with him and his numbers? OR do i distract him with something else?

He Will often have a tantrum if he can't do something his way.

Any advice?



  • Generally with obsessions you have to pick your battles. For example, I know of an autistic boy who likes to count the corners on the tables as he enters the room. Stopping him sends him into a tantrum, so by allowing him two minutes to count the corners before a lesson starts keeps him calm and allows him to get on with the lesson. However, he isnt allowed to count corners at any other time other than at the begining of the lesson. It teaches him to compromise, but also allows him to do what he needs to in order to keep him calm.

    At 3, your little boy is still very young so I would be tempted to allow him to enjoy his numbers. He isnt going to understand if you try and reason with him beause of his age, plus, he may end up being gifted with maths and numbers and that is something to be celebrated rather than squashed. As he gets older you will be able to tackle his obsessions in order to help him become less reliant on them.

    One of my brothers obsessions was with the supernatural, and he would talk endlessly to anyone who would listen about how vampires and zombies are real and might take over the earth. When he got to the age of about 10 my mum was able to explain that other people didnt think in the same way and certainly didnt want to hold four hour conversations about would happen if a vampire bit them! He learned (slowly) to accept this and chose to write down his ideas about vampires and zombies instead. He wrote some amazing stories, and getting his ideas out made him feel calmer. Hope this helps xx
  • i agree with the above post. one of katelyns obsessions was washing her hands, so we allowed her a certain amount of time to wah her hands after using the toilet or when they were visably dirty (not very much as she wouldnt let them get dirty!!lol) and that was it, she was not allowed into the bathroom to wash her hands for the sake of it. the consultant said a good thing to do was get a egg timer so they are allowed to do their obession for the amount of time til the egg timer ran out. it teaches them to be in control.

    at the moment katelyn likes to walk around a field (in same direction) each night. we all go for this walk,it isnt hurting and it keeps us all fit and her calm!

    picking your battles is a very good way of putting it image

  • Definitely pick your battles, also use his obsessions to your advantage, so for eg if you want him to do something and he is refusing then say first......... then........ with first being your choice, then being what he wants to do, it doesnt always work and takes time for them to get the message, especially if he is anything like my Isaac.
  • Hi. I read this thread out of interest and thought I'd reply even if its quite an old one. How is it going now?

    I am an early years teacher in a special school and most of my class are ASD. To my way of thinking, GlitterBug's advice is right. At school we don't let the children carry out their obsessions all of the time and on demand but they do have planned times when they can if they want to. In class we have a visual timetable for the older children (by which I mean 5-6)and the younger ones (3-4) have a now and next board. So to simplify it, I might say for example "It's painting first then choosing" and have it visually on a strip with widget symbols. It's a bit different in a school setting I expect but a lot of parents do carry on with this at home eg "Car then Nanny's house then Choosing" . We do sort boards out for the parents if they ask. Personally I wouldn't let him play with numbers morning, noon and night or you will have a real battle on your hands when there are times he can't do it for whatever reason. I have seen parents in tears because they have left it too late to intervene. There's no point trying to distract him because if you lose one behaviour pattern it will just be replaced by another. Hopefully you'll have sorted it by now anyway. xXx
  • Hi

    thanks for the replies. Well one year on Isaac's been discussed at the autism forum and has come back undiagnosed, but is being kept under review with his pediatrician.

    He still has his obsessions but we pick our battles as suggested. His latest one is angry birds and he can become quite angry and upset when we tell him his session is over even with warnings. So he only plays on it as a reward now.

    He is at nursery atm and he would sit all day on the computer if given chance! The teacher is fab at distracting him away.

    He starts school in Sept we Will see how he gets on then! Lots of changes for him this year, moving house, school and new baby. Will be interesting to see how he copes.

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