September 17, 2007,
H.H. asks from Flower Mound, TX on September 15, 2007
Unusual and Common Kid Obsessions
I am doing some informal research on (non-clinical)obsessions of 2-6 year old kids. For instance, I have a 4 y/o that has been obsessed with diggers for 2 years and prefers to only wear clothes with digger trucks on them (he would also like them to be blue, but how many blue digger shirts can the world handle?). Any information you can give will be helpful and interesting. I am also interested in how you tried to cater to or eliminate this obsession! Thanks mamas...
M.F. answers from Dallas on September 15, 2007
My 4 yr old likes anything pink, but isn't really "obsessed" -- she's fine with any other color too.
This is kind of random, and very forward of me, but an "obsession" that lasts for so long in a kid so young doesn't seem "normal" (given that normal is a pretty broad range). The only child I know with that degree of "obsession" over something was recently diagnosed with autism. If he has several things in his life that need to be routine or the same, you might look into some beginning screening tests, or at least questionnaires. Your pediatrician could point you to some resources, or even the school district (the school district will work with kids from age 3 and up). There are also several resources online:
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L.S. answers from Phoenix on September 16, 2007
Yes, an obsession *can* be a sign of autism; however no developmental ped would use that as a sole indicator in diagnosing autism. Children with autism will display a greater number of behavioral and physical symptoms such as low muscle tone, sensory issues, ongoing diarrhea, speech delay, etc. The child mentioned by the previous poster probably had a lot more going on than just being obsessed about a certain kind of toy.
My son was and still is "obsessed" with wheels, trains, cars, etc. He loves them. He loves playing with them. He loves stories with trains as the featured character. Yes, he lines them up. He makes plah doh ice cream for them. He gives them bathes. He "cooks" for them. He builds them lego houses. You get the idea. If he were a girl and played with dolls like this, would anyone question it even if it meant playing with them over a period of years? I know I played with my stuffed animals and dolls until I was about 10 or 11. Isn't he just playing with his cars like many girls play with their dolls??
I think we get a little too worked up over these things (and researching the internet doesn't help sometimes). Yes, lining up cars (for example) *can* be a sign of autism but that is for an MD to determine. If that is what you are concerned about, talk to your Dr. Please realize that a lot of things autistic kids do, "normal" kids do as well. If you son just seems likes diggers and that is your only concern, I think you can relax. I bet he'll move on to something else before you know it. As another poster states, pick your battles wisely. This is probably one best that is best left alone.
A. answers from Dallas on September 15, 2007
My daughters are actually both obsessed with horses!! They want to wear their horse shirts all the time, pretend to be horses, play horses etc. We have actually put away most of their other toys because they dont play with them. I was worried about it, but when I saw an episode of Dr. Phil where a woman had a son that was obsessed with horses too, and he said it was a great sign of a good imagination etc, I felt better. The trick for her (which my kids havent seemed to have a problem with) is to teach him when it is appropriate to play horse. He was to the point that he was neighing at the waitress when she talked to him etc. I dont feel too worried about this one, we just talk about when it is time to play and when it is not. And how to be appreciative of all of their gifts, not just the horse ones. My youngest tried for a little bit to decide that she would only eat if she could eat like a horse, but after going hungry for about a day, she realized it was not worth it. And they dont get to play horse when it is time to clean (they were trying to pick everything up with their mouths...gross and too time consuming! my 4 year old is worse about horse shirts than my 7 year old, so we pick 2 or 3 days a week that she gets to wear them. But I get to decide what she wears if we are going somewhere important. I am not sure if any of this helps, but I say indulge the obsession with reasonable boundaries and you should be fine! ~A.~
A.M. answers from Dallas on September 16, 2007
My 2y/o loves tractors, dump trucks, trucks, and all the like. He specifically loves the forklift at our pet store. We have to walk the whole store and find it before we leave and he tells everyone he sees that he got to see the "yellow tractor at the pet store". I always take him to see it and sometimes we go even if we don't need anything, so I guess that is indulging. I agree with the other lady, he uses his creativity when it comes to the subject (the tractor is sleeping, working, has 3 wheels, red light - all the details get discussed) so whatever floats his boat. If it makes him happy then I'll go with him on it. Now if the shirt obsession starts too I may change my tune!
T.O. answers from Dallas on September 15, 2007
Like Maggie said, that kind of obsession can mean a form of autism but it could be normal. My daughter would only wear a Lion King shirt, red skirt and black boots for most of kindergarten.
My son, who is autistic, will only wear certain color shirts, certain styles, and certain textures. He's very picky. But if you look at grown up men, they are pretty much into wearing the same kinds of things all the time, too. So it's not that weird. However, I do have 5 shirts of the same style in navy and green for my son, with 4 others closely resembling the style but not exactly in green and navy.
Rather than fighting about clothes with my son or daughter my only concern was "Is it clean?" or "Does it smell?".
You can only fight so much and who cares if they have a fixation? If you worry about that and make them worry, what other social habits will they learn to worry about? Will he worry about what kind of bike he has, what kind of shoes, what kind of back pack... are they the "right" kind? You don't want to go too far .... but I can understand your frustration.
If he has any other signs of autism... like sound sensitiviy, extreme desire to follow a pattern of rules (not necessarily the rules you have in mind), language delays etc. then ask your school or doctor to evaluate him.
Otherwise, I wouldn't worry about the clothes issue. Just remember, there are worse things to worry about. Save your energy for the teen years.
T.T. answers from Dallas on September 16, 2007
My older son has ALWAYS been obsessed with electronics and anything with buttons (one's that do something). When he was two he would carry around CD's like they were teddy bears. He's never cared about his clothes, so that was never an issue. Now, at five, he is still way into electronics, DVD's, CD's and CD ROMS (yes, he know the difference and has for quite a while).
We really haven't done anything to eliminate the obsession, but we do have to take measures to preserve our electronics. He knows how to work them, but also knows how to change settings which can be frustrating!! I honestly don't think this obsession will ever go away. Who knows, he may just be the next computer genius?
J.J. answers from Dallas on September 17, 2007
Please don't worry. I recently posted a very similar question on a moms group board I am on, and just about every mom told me her child (mostly 2-3 year olds) had some form of "obsession." Trains, trucks, and diggers seem to be at the top of every boy's list in varying order. If you are concerned, mention it to your pedi, but honestly I'd be more worried if he didn't seem to have any kind of obsession. It seems perfectly normal. Speaking of diggers, my son refuses to learn his colors. If I ask him what color something is that is yellow, he tells me "Scoop". Red is "Muck"... Bob The Builder obsession in my home, and he doesn't even watch much TV!
D.T. answers from Dallas on September 16, 2007
A friend had a son who would not wear anything with buttons for almost two years, then he got over it. Another friend's son wouldn't wear anything unless it had spiderman on it. My youngest child would only wear her black rubber rain boots for months! All of them turned out normal. I think it is a control issue and is quite normal. Is it worth a fight? I have learned to pick my battles and most of the time, clothing fights just aren't worth it!