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Autism and Obsessions

Autism and Obsessions

Shortly after our son turned three years old, he took interest in “advertising” to a new level of dedication. It started with a unique interest in commercials on television. It seemed unusual for such a little toddler to find them so interesting. Any kind of commercial would come on the screen and it would capture his interest. When the logo and tagline were finally shown, he would get giggly and touch the television screen.

“OK, he really seems to like commercials”, we thought. It seemed neat that he had such a fascination with something adult-oriented as opposed to Teletubbies or Barney the dinosaur. Little did we know at the time that this was a sign of being on the autism spectrum.

Our son was a late talker to be sure. After our move to Texas we were happy to know that he was making more of an effort to sound out words. At three years old, however, we had not yet brought him to a doctor to be diagnosed. We were still holding out hope, but after much Googling and research on “late talking” our suspicions were there.

Intel commercials and the associated chimes of “Bom… bom-bom -bom BOM!” were what made him happy. This was among his first serious vocalizations combined with a word. If an Intel commercial came on TV he would run to the screen and enjoy the anticipation of what was to come. When the logo and jingle finally came he was in heaven and chimed along. He would repeat the word “Intel” and sing the lovely chimes throughout the day. This, however, was the extent of his conversation skills.

autism obsession
Obsession Evolved

Logos of all kinds soon captured his interest. The satellite television company would come out with a new list of channels with tiny versions of their logos printed on a sheet of paper. He carried that sheet of paper everywhere as a typically developing child would carry their favorite toy. He took care of it, and if eventually it became worn or torn, we would have a backup from the Sunday paper. We were pleased that he had something that interested him and often joked that he had a future in advertising. There was a sense, however, that this was unusual behavior in a child.

More research on the web led to an understanding that with autism there is often unusual obsessions with seemingly mundane objects or occurrences. It was not long after this period of time that we took the step of bringing him in to the doctor’s office to see what they could make of it all.

Since this time our son has expanded his interests. He has passed his Intel phase. He still (and likely will always) have his obsessions, but we have seen them change over time. Even though it brought him a lot of pleasure, we are pleased that he has finally discarded the logo sheet. It is our hope that we can aid in channeling his interests and obsessions into something that gives him not just joy, but productivity and purpose in the future.

Autism themed books by Mark Ferdinand. Fiction and nonfiction:

Fortune on the Spectrum

Denny was diagnosed with autism at three years of age. Autism gave him the gift of obsession. This gift made him the youngest, self-made millionaire in Texas history. Autism also made him vulnerable to the forces of the outside world, of both society and nature. Fortune on the Spectrum is the journey of an unstoppable young man, destined to succeed and challenged to survive. Denny’s story takes you through struggle, humor, love, finance and danger from the voice of an atypical mind. Autism Fiction. Texas Novel.

The Autistic Prankster: Enjoying the Fun Side of Autism

We know about all the challenges. These stories focus on the fun and the funny side of autism. While he may not have typical communication skills, surprisingly this can be an asset in the humor department. Funny autism-related moments are a daily occurrence with this young character, and this book is a collection of the most memorable.