Obsessive-compulsive issues, also referred to as rituals, rigidity, perseverations, rules, or black-and-white thinking, originate in the Asperger's child's difficulty understanding the world around him. This creates anxiety, the underlying cause for his obsessive-compulsive behaviors. You will see anxiety in many different ways, depending on how your child manifests it. Some kids will show it in obvious ways, such as crying, hiding under furniture, or clinging to you. Others show it by trying to control the situation and bossing people around. Some may hit or throw a tantrum. Some may act silly. No matter how your child displays his anxiety, you need to recognize that it is there and not assume it is due to some other cause such as attention seeking or just plain misbehavior.
Anxiety can occur for the smallest reason. Don't judge anxiety-producing situations by your own reaction to an event. Your child will be much more sensitive to situations than you will be, and often there will be no logical reason for his anxiety. Something that you would be anxious about causes no anxiety in your child, while a small event causes him to be quite anxious. When events change, he never knows what is going to come next and he becomes confused and upset, leading to some form of inappropriate behavior.
Your child's first reaction may be to try to reduce or eliminate his anxiety. He must do something, and one of the most effective means is to take all changes, uncertainty, and variability out of the equation. This can be accomplished by obsessions. If everything is done a certain way, if there is a definite and unbreakable rule for every event, and if everyone does as he wishes, everything will be fine. Anxiety is then diminished or reduced, and no upset, tantrums, or meltdowns occur.
Unfortunately, it is virtually impossible to do this in the real world. Nevertheless, anxiety needs to be dealt with in some manner. This is the first order of business in planning for many interventions. If you move ahead before this has been settled, it will continue to be a significant interfering factor.
Behavioral Manifestations of Anxiety—
- Wanting things to go their way, when they want them to, no matter what anyone else may want. They may argue, throw a tantrum, ignore you, growl, refuse to yield, etc.
- Tending to conserve energy and put forth the least effort they can, except with highly preferred activities.
- Remaining in a fantasy world a good deal of the time and appearing unaware of events around them.
- Reacting poorly to new events, transitions, or changes.
- Preferring to do the same things over and over.
- Lecturing others or engaging in a monologue rather than having a reciprocal conversation.
- Intensely disliking loud noises and crowds.
- Insisting on having things and/or events occur in a certain way.
- Having trouble playing and socializing well with peers or avoiding socializing altogether. They prefer to be alone because others do not do things exactly as they do.
- Having a narrow range of interests, and becoming fixated on certain topics and/or routines.
- Eating a narrow range of foods.
- Displaying a good deal of silly behaviors because they are anxious or do not know what to do in a situation.
- Demonstrating unusual fears, anxiety, tantrums, and showing resistance to directions from others.
- Demanding unrealistic perfection in their handwriting, or wanting to avoid doing any writing.
- Creating their own set of rules for doing something.
- Becoming easily overwhelmed and having difficulty calming down.....