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Old 10-03-2011, 09:39 PM
 
806 posts, read 1,171,115 times
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Default autistic 8 year old obsessed with fans

...particularly ceiling fans. This kid (not my child) takes pictures, he knows the brands, styles, etc. This is sort of a hobby but seems he's spending way to much time researching ceiling fans instead of learning other activities. Is not like we can remove fans away from daily lives...they are everywhere! He does well at school (2nd grade) and with sitter after school. As far as I've seen it doesn't interfere with school, just when he's out in a social environment...Let's say he's at a restaurant with family, well he would be paying more attention to the ceiling fans on top of another diner's table, than paying attention to anything going on on his own table, including eating. Anyone can recommend if this would be something you would try to discourage? Or would it be best to just leave it alone. I will appreciate feedback. This is not my child, just the child of someone I know and I'm trying to see if there is anything I can do to help (or not).
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Old 10-04-2011, 06:13 AM
 
Location: Boston
48 posts, read 113,786 times
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Hi Houston,

That is typical behavior for a child with Autism. Mechanics and systems (like weather systems or engines or electrical systems) are a common 'focus' for autistic kids. It isn't something the child should be disciplined for or discouraged from- especially not in a 'conventional' way. The situation should be attended to in a way that is supportive and constructive in terms of a child with Autism.

Autistic children experience the world in a completely different way than others do. I would recommend reading a bit more about the mind of an autistic child, so that you can get to know a bit more why the child acts the way it does- it is fascinating! -and it will really help you to understand what's going on in this instance.
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Old 10-04-2011, 06:17 AM
 
Location: Texas Hill Country
2,348 posts, read 5,981,552 times
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His watching the fans is not hurting anyone so I say let him. If he was hurting someone then lets see what we can do but this..let it go so many other things in the Austic life to deal with..
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Old 10-04-2011, 06:55 AM
 
3,573 posts, read 4,652,847 times
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His "obsession" with something is an obsession in your eyes, but not in his, - it's his world. In a way, he is luckier than us (the neurotypical people) because while we are searching for our destiny, calling, and happiness, he has found it already!

The only possible way to end his obsession with something is to introduce a subject that captivates him more - that is, to find another obsession.
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Old 10-04-2011, 07:58 AM
 
Location: Rogers, Arkansas
1,234 posts, read 2,283,955 times
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Let him. His parents/ therapists/ carers have bigger fights to fight than fans.
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Old 10-04-2011, 09:37 AM
 
Location: Barrington, IL area
1,593 posts, read 1,408,598 times
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I was obsessed with fans for a while as a kid. Nothing wrong with it IMO.
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Old 10-04-2011, 09:48 AM
 
Location: Middle America
17,186 posts, read 14,049,863 times
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Pretty standard behavior for individuals with autism. Most of the time, it's best to worry about behavior foremost if it presents a danger, and to take behavior that isn't dangerous, but not always socially appropriate, and encourage additional behavior that is socially appropriate. If the fan thing isn't hurting anything, it's probably not at the top of the list of battles to pick, and there's no real reason to discourage it. You can, over time, do things to encourage socially appropriate interactions with others if you feel that the fan thing is impeding that, but you're not going to fade out niche interests in their entirety. I def. wouldn't discourage interests that are safe, or that are easily enough served while maintaining a semblance of social appropriateness.

I would wonder if the fan issue is triggering any behavioral problems (are there meltdowns if a place doesn't have fans, if the fans aren't on, etc., that sort of thing, if the kid freaks out when redirected to eating his meal, etc.). If this isn't the case, I'd probably not sweat it.

What is your connection to the child? What is his parents' approach?
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Old 10-04-2011, 10:09 AM
 
806 posts, read 1,171,115 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TabulaRasa View Post
Pretty standard behavior for individuals with autism. Most of the time, it's best to worry about behavior foremost if it presents a danger, and to take behavior that isn't dangerous, but not always socially appropriate, and encourage additional behavior that is socially appropriate. If the fan thing isn't hurting anything, it's probably not at the top of the list of battles to pick, and there's no real reason to discourage it. You can, over time, do things to encourage socially appropriate interactions with others if you feel that the fan thing is impeding that, but you're not going to fade out niche interests in their entirety. I def. wouldn't discourage interests that are safe, or that are easily enough served while maintaining a semblance of social appropriateness.

I would wonder if the fan issue is triggering any behavioral problems (are there meltdowns if a place doesn't have fans, if the fans aren't on, etc., that sort of thing, if the kid freaks out when redirected to eating his meal, etc.). If this isn't the case, I'd probably not sweat it.

What is your connection to the child? What is his parents' approach?
He's a family member, but rather not discuss details. Parent's approach is trying to ignore it. Mom would rather discourage the behavior but not exactly sure how to handle. They live in apartment building and the A/C vents are all outside their back door. He like to take afternoon walks to see if other neighbor vents are on or off. He would write down how many hands they have, wether 3 or 4 or 5. Would tabulate the apt number and the type of fan they have. From the posters have mentioned...it appears to be a typical behavior of the autism child. With the ceiling fans, he could spend all day turning the fan on or off, turning on/off the lights (if the fan has any) and also changing the direction of the fan (blowing up or blowing down). He would take anything and turn into a fan...loves anything that spins. One of his favorite toys is a helicopter...because the rotors looks like fans. When we are at a restaurant where there are fans, he likes to go through the entire place talking to himself about them, taking pictures. If he's asked to come back and focus on his family members, he gets upset. If he's not allowed to do what he wants or take pictures he gets upset too. Not long ago we went out of town for a weekend and stayed at a hotel where there was a ceiling fan. That's all he did. I was afraid that he would be hanging from it and injure himself as well as break the fan. He avoids everyone as much as possible. His little cousin tries to play with him and she's pushed away because he won't share toys or play with little cousin.

Thanks everyone for your comments. I believe all things considered he's a typical child. We will be researching more as we go. The mom of course is the one that knows more about autism, as it should be.
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Old 10-04-2011, 11:08 AM
 
9,917 posts, read 7,032,506 times
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There are some things that can be done to encourage this child to share his experiences with family members. Look into Relationship Developmental Intervention and Floortime to increase his social ability.

Try this fun activity
Fun Activity for Kids: Create an Indoor Snowstorm! - Associated Content from Yahoo! - associatedcontent.com

When you do it with him, have fun and comment on what you are feeling about the activity. Just the smiles and laughs should be worth it. You may find that you can get him engaged with his younger cousin because she may love this activity too.

You can also blow bubbles and use a fan to blow them around. A bubble machine is great for this too. Again, you can have other children involved which may make him want to be more social with them.

Try taping or tying ribbons or yarn around the room and letting him use hand fans to blow them around. Act surprised or happy or whatever showing exaggerated emotions to see if you can get him involved in showing his emotions.

Taking pictures of the fans is a great way to increase his episodic memory. You can put the pictures in a small album and sort through them talking about where he took them and what activities you were doing as a family at the time. Don't ask him about them though. That creates too much pressure. Look at the pictures and tell a story about what the family was doing at the time when he took the pictures.

Remember that even though his academic and intellectual development may be above level, his social and emotional development are probably more on the level of a younger child. Don't be afraid to go back to this level for games so that you can develop his skill at reading your facial expressions. You can also have a child like this help with chores and use emotion sharing rather than talking when you do them together. You may be amazed at how much things open up when you stop using so much language.

If you are interested in RDI, read this blog
This Mom: PPP Day 7 - Getting Started with RDI
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Old 10-04-2011, 12:46 PM
 
Location: Middle America
17,186 posts, read 14,049,863 times
Reputation: 19919
Is he currently receiving any type of therapy or behavioral intervention? What is his schooling situation?
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