June 8, 2018

Strange Things Are Happening: Compulsive Repetitive Behavior

One thing I’ve learned with autism is to expect the unexpected. Brandon has a strange new… I don’t even know what to call it…because “quirk” doesn’t cut it. He has this compulsive repetitive behavior that can almost be described as an intense routine. 

He starts at the fireplace and takes something imaginary off of the wall, places it on the cabinet, then pick it back up and put it on the wall. He then heads to the kitchen where he reaches for something imaginary over the counter by the stove. After that, he goes upstairs and on the back wall of the bonus room, he reaches again. Then, he comes downstairs and touches a decorative bird house in the same spot each time, and reaches once more to the wall. He then heads to his sensory room where he jumps on the trampoline once, touches the chair that is in there. While he is doing all of these things he licks his hand at certain times. 

At first when he started doing this, I thought it was weird, but I figured it was just one of the odd things he would do for a little while and it would pass. It’s becoming such a compulsive need he will be screaming and crying when he is away from the house for too long. When we get home, he bee-lines to the fireplace to begin. Sometimes he is even crying while he is doing it. It almost seems as if he doesn’t actually want to be stuck in this routine, but he has some physical and psychological need to do it. This has been going on for about three days, and I just pray that it ends soon. I can’t stand to see him so distraught.

I have run through so many different scenarios in my head about why this might be happening, or what might be triggering it. I have many theories, none of which I can definitively say is the culprit. I’ve changed several things in his environment, to no avail. We sometimes leave the house when it gets to be too much, whether it’s riding our golf cart around the neighborhood, or just going for a drive. This seems to help but again, if we’re gone for too long, this need takes over.

This is a difficult time for him, and for us as parents. I know some of these pictures of him upset are difficult for some of you to see, but it’s part of our story. There are so many things about Brandon’s life that I don’t share out of respect for him, but this is one that’s important to share to give a glimpse of the struggles that autism brings.

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