Sunday, December 20, 2009


So, I have to ask: has anyone out there experienced a child with autism have a lot of OCD? My little guy just turned 12-years-old, and it seems like his obsessions just continue to increase.

I don't care that he washes his hands obsessively, dries them off in a ritualistic fashion, brushes pencil eraser shavings off in a pattern of three strokes, constantly rubs his hair and then fears baldness as a result, says the word "excuse me" until it sounds just right, BUT..........

IT'S THE FRIENDSHIP OBSESSIONS that get me crazy!!! In his world, friendships are EVERYTHING! He will do whatever it takes to keep his friends. He has no self-worth. It's all tied up in having a friend. He is constantly checking in with people: "we're still friends right?" He's afraid to tell any of them "no", or they won't want to be friends with him anymore, and for Anthony, that would be the equivalent of death.

My biggest fear with this is that he will especially obsess over a child who clearly and verbally has told Anthony that they don't want to be his friend. He has a new child in his class right now who is very aggressively against Anthony, and has even stated "I like everyone. It's you I hate". This makes Anthony want to come back even harder, and work more tirelessly to get this kid's favor. Why won't Anthony just say "forget you! who needs you!", and walk away? Why won't he heed my many prompts to find another person to play with? Why is it so important to him to change someones negative opinion of him to a positive one?

To top it off, his teacher has asked for my help, but is rejecting every suggestion I have! I wanted his behaviorist to come in last Friday to observe: "NO! It's a Christmas Party and she won't get an accurate view of the problem!" I WAS THERE!! There was so much obsession going on I was close to tears!!!! I asked his afternoon aide to stand closer to Anthony while out on the playground, but because she's just an "access aide" and not a "1:1 aide" this is not possible.

I'm working so hard here not to be a defeatist, throw my hands in the air and say "I GIVE UP!!!!"

Here's my latest plan: Has anyone heard of the "Bill of Assertive Rights"? It's all about helping a person not to be passive or aggressive, but to work on learning and exercising their rights as a human being. It's about understanding what you have the right to and what you don't have the right to. For example: I have the right to my opinions, ideas and beliefs. I have a right to be happy. I have a right to tell you how I feel. I don't have a right to yell and scream at you.....and on and on.

So first, I need to get him to understand that learning to be assertive is about empowering him to protect his rights and establish self respect. I'm going to start by using puppets and dolls to show him the differences between submissive and aggressive behavior, and then begin to introduce the idea of assertive behavior.

I've found an acronym K.I.T.E. This is part of assertive training for children:

K= Know what you want
I=Use "I" messages vs. "You" messages (to prevent the other person from feeling attacked)
T=Tell others what you want firmly and repeatedly (you don't always get what you want the first time)
E=Expect change/Evaluate effectiveness

This is all of course at the very early stages. I don't know if or when there will be any improvement in his emotional/self respect status, but I think it's really worth a try. With Anthony, it will definitely take a lot of repeating role play and replays, and even scripting what he might say when confronted with negative speech.

I'll try to come back on here frequently to keep a log of our efforts.

Wish us luck! :o)