Autism spectrum disorder comes with a lot of adjusting and learning on the parents’ side. Individuals with autism require different levels of care and ways of conducting life than their neurotypical peers. A huge reason for this has to do with autism obsessions and routines.
If you have a child with autism, you know what I’m referring to. Some children with autism have obsessions, some have routines, some have both.
What are autism obsessions, routines, & rituals?
A lot of people assume that the routines and obsessions associated with autism are simply obsessive compulsive disorder–but that’s not the case, usually. OCD is a disorder that involves a lot of anxiety, so much that it’s a driving force to think certain thoughts (obsessions) or do certain things (compulsions).
Autism obsessions, routines, and rituals are a bit different. While an individual with autism may do certain things because they’re anxious, a lot of what they do has to do with how their brain is wired. Doings things a certain way may make the world easier to understand in their terms.
Autism obsessions in a teen can come in the form of hyper focused attention on one area of study. For example, an adolescent with autism could have an intense focus on knowing absolutely everything about airplanes. How they work, how they’re made, the various ways they’re used, and more.
Routines can be a large part of a child’s life when it comes to autism. Many individuals with autism like things to go a certain way. For example, eating at a certain time, going to bed in a certain position in a specific place, etc. The predictability is comforting and unpredictability can cause chaos.
Rituals are the actions an individual on the spectrum performs in times of anxiety or discomfort. The action may be anything from needing to drink from the same cup every time to flicking a rubber band. The reason for the behavior can be brought on by sensory sensitivity. Many individuals with autism struggle with sensory overload, but rituals help them to calm down and focus.
How you can help
As a parent of a child with autism, you have to do a lot of learning and accepting. Recognizing an autism obsession that makes your teen’s life easier is okay to embrace–but when ones start to get in the way of daily life and get out of control, it may be time to seek out a professional for further guidance.
Seven Stars is here for your family
Seven Stars is a program that combines residential treatment with adventure therapy to create a multifaceted, effective program for adolescents, ages 13 to 18, struggling with emotional and behavioral issues as a result of their neurodevelopmental disorder.
We embed the objectives we have for each student into daily activities and teach emotional wellness skills such as conflict resolution, problem solving, social skills, academic skills, self-efficacy and prosocial behaviors. At Seven Stars, we strive to help our students develop the skills necessary to live full, productive lives.
For more information about how Seven Stars can help your teen deal with their autism obsessions, contact us today at 844-601-1167.
Since 2003, Dr. Gordon Day has passionately helped young people with a wide range of family, emotional, social, neurodevelopmental and behavioral problems. Gordon’s mission has been to help people find their strengths and their own passion for living a full and rewarding life. He is particularly sensitive to the pressures, frustrations and disappointments that adolescents face that can sometimes cause them and their loved ones to want to withdraw and throw their hands up in despair.
Dr. Day knows that you really have to understand where a student is coming from and understand their patterns of strengths and needs. When we truly know an individual and their struggles, only then can we truly help.
Dr. Day has pioneered the use of outdoor therapy activities and outdoor living as a dynamic and effective therapeutic tool for learning, confidence building and skill building. His programs provide effective, supportive and encouraging environments that help students find their strengths and power.