When Autism Looks Like OCD
This blog post only pertains to my son. I am in no way saying that autism is OCD, or OCD is autism, or even that OCD is a typical characteristic found on the autism spectrum.
This post is simply about my own observations.
Why am I talking about OCD?
Because sometimes my son acts like he has OCD.
He doesn’t. He has autism. And, someone with a professional degree may be able to explain why OCD looks like autism, or OCD can be on the spectrum, or whatever.
But, here’s what I’ve noticed about my son and what I do about it.
What is it about my son?
Throughout his life, he has struggled with repetition. Sometimes he has to ask the same questions two or three times, or say a fact two or three times, or repeat what he was told several times.
His “loop” (as I call it) often involves me.
Let’s say he asks me a question and I answer it.
Then, he asks the same question, and I answer the same way.
Then…he does it a third time. By this time, I feel like I have to stop the “loop” as I call it.
I’ll tell him that I already answered his question.
This is where it gets tricky because my son will need to hear my answer one more time.
But, I feel I can’t feed the loop, I need to do my best to break it.
So, I’ll say something like, “I already gave you my answer, just one minute ago. It’s the same answer.”
At times, my son will get upset when I say that.
He needs to hear that “proper” reply again, the he has in his head.
Which looks a lot like OCD (in my opinion).
I’m not saying OCD and autism are the same thing. There are differences between the two, one being that people with autism don’t necessarily want to get rid of their OCD tendencies. They’re comforting to them. Many people with OCD don’t like their repetitive behaviors.
This need for my son to repeat himself at times has led to problems in our house because I like to stick to my guns.
I explain to him that I gave my answer twice and my answer hasn’t changed, so I don’t need to repeat myself. Yet, now I’m upset that he’s gotten upset by my non-refusal to say it yet again.
I try to tell him why I’m doing what I’m doing, but sometimes he just wants that completion. He wants to close this loop that he opened, for whatever OCD-like issue he’s having.
I’m not trying to hurt him, I’m trying to help (with my admitted limited knowledge of OCD).
Is there a better way to handle this?
I came up with one recently that seems to have worked (for now).
I purchased a white board. When my son begins to ask the same question the second time, I can “feel” what is coming. So I tell him I’m going to write down the question and the answer.
And, I do it.
This has stopped the repeat questions. And, it seems to satisfy him.
Again, for now.
I fear this behavior will be back. He’s always had this behavior in one form or another. Usually, I can handle it because I’m very familiar with it.
But, sometimes you do need to come up with other options that can help (like the white board).
I can also talk to other Aut-Parents I know, I’m sure many of them have had to deal with a similar issue. Our kids like to cling to their facts and they’ll repeat them to make themselves feel comfortable.
If only this can break the cycle… When Autism Looks Like OCD
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