Saturday, April 3, 2010

Autism Awareness Month: Repetitive behavior

*This doesn't even touch on restricted interests, which goes hand in hand with repetitive behavior. That one gets its own post.*

Bede has never been a guy who's much into toys. We recently rediscovered his favorite (such as it was) toy as an infant: it's a device you can twist and shake that makes different dings and rattles depending on which part is manipulated. But Bede never did that; he just set it on the floor and spun it like a top. Over and over and over.

He went through a long period of playing with blocks, the classic kind that have alphabet letters printed on them. (That's how we learned he knew what they all were, and their sounds.) He would line them up on the edge of the table and scream when they fell, then try again. Over and over and over.

When he got a little older, he started to watch television. He was tyrannical with the DVD player, and made it impossible to watch anything but what he wanted to watch, which was invariably the same program. Disney's Very Merry Christmas Songs and Mickey's Twice Upon a Christmas were the only thing on our TV for a year. Then the Cars root menu. Just the root menu! Over and over and over.

I have a theory about this sort of repetitive behavior (which has diminished greatly as Bede has gotten older.) I think he liked the utter sameness of one thing compared with the highly variable world around it. Was it the same movie if it was on when Faith was in the room? Yeah. How bout when he was eating pizza? Uh-huh. But wait, what if he was under a blanket on the sofa? If there were toys on the shelf? Yep. And so on. Over and over and over.

Up next: restricted interests - hyperlexia supreme!