Sunday, 24 May 2009


First of all I have to apologise for my silence. Dear
friends, I haven't vanished. I am still reading and
following, however for some strange reason I am
unable to post comments on your or my own blog(?).
Hopefully it will be fixed soon, once I find out what

Now to the topic.

Most if not all autistic people are obsessive. What
is the difference between a hobby and an obsession?
A hobby is something a person likes and does in
their spare time, a subject or activity of interest.
An obsession is when a hobby takes over the life.
An activity or subject which pushes away most of
the other aspects of life; study, work, conversation.
You can rationalise and see when you are able to
give your time to your hobby, it can wait until you
have done your "chores". You cannot do this with
an obsession. It has to be done. It's a need.

In many cases, obsession stays with the autistic
person forever. In some, like Cirwen, they change.
Cirwen started with Barbie doll. They were going
everywhere with her, they were displayed in a row
in her bedroom, and she obviously liked to have
the images on her clothes. With Barbie, came the
Disney Princesses and the colour pink. "Just like
a typical little girl" you'd say. Maybe, but then,
Cirwen would not wear anything but pink, her
bedroom was glowing pink with princess bedding
and curtains, even her plates had to be pink with
either barbie or a princess on it. She would not
wear trousers, because princesses didn't, although
I could negotiate, that Barbie does...

Cirwen new by heart the whole script for "Snow
White" and "Sleeping Beauty" films. She had to
watch them endlessly and act out all the scenes
taking parts of different characters. Most of our
conversations were based on the subject of pink,
dolls and castles. Later, she added fairies to her
world of pink. This carried on between the age
of 2 and 8. As much as it all sweet and magical,
sometimes I would love to change the subject to
something else, even Winnie the Poo (I still love
him), but it was impossible. Cirwen would ignore
any reference to a different subject suggested by
us or withdraw completely if we insisted on talking
about the topic she was not obsessed with.

After she turned 8, the pink started to fade away
slowly. With the move to the junior part of school,
she started to say she is "growing out of it". She
discovered rock music, and became more interested
in her Living Dead Dolls (which formerly were only
to scare away The Dark).

Within the next six months barbies and princesses
were given away to her friends younger sister, her
bedroom turned black last year, and gradually she
is who she is now. In her own words: "A gothic rocker
who smiles". ( In her literal thinking she thought that
goths are so depressed and unhappy that they never
smile). With all that came all the Tim Burton films,
Lenore, anime and YouTube. Especially YouTube
became a daily must to find the most weird gothic
cartoons, music and videos. She also plays game
consoles (e.g. Wii or Xbox). This has to be monitored
and timed as she is able to play 24/7 if not told off...
However, there are a few games she will play all
the time no matter how many times she has completed
them. This will be Fable and Fable II and Sims.

There are also books and comics. reading has always
been a big part of our life.

Lately Cirwen became interested in her Dad's hobby -
- Warhammer games. It's a great game, where you
build your own fantasy army, stick together and paint
your models. It is like chess with a bit of magic.
I personally do not try to change her obsessions or
stop her from doing them. There is always something
you can learn through play.

Barbie and princesses I used to teach her conversation,
interaction, and films helped to recognise emotions or
simple facial expressions.

Use of the computer teaches her keyboard skills, resource
finding, and as well as the games - hand eye coordination.

Warhammer battles have so many aspects; planning,
strategy, basic maths, again manual skills and it is
helping with interaction with others. She visit the Games
Workshop once a week, where she can have a battle or just
sit down, have a chat with staff and kids while painting her
models. We also have battles at home between her, us
and a few uncles.

There is now some variety in Cirwen's life and more subjects
to talk about. This is because we introduce new things slowly
and let her do this on her own terms. I know now what mood
she might be if she vanishes in her room in front of the laptop
or a console - that usually means she is tired and fed up with
people - she needs escape. She does that everyday after school.
It is a need, obsession, which gives her life comfort. Repetitive
action - familiar, predictable and in it's safety - relaxing.

I know of others with stranger obsessions. The boy obsessed
with drains, another writing letters , then dividing them in
groups, classical Thomas the Tank Engine, numbers etc.


  1. I used to take care of a boy with autism of a form of it anyway he would spend hours on the computer playing Neopets, gia, And ruin scape my own daughter plays the same sites the chat together in the games and inter act with others now my daughter dose not have autism but she is ocd on lot of things.

  2. Consistancy seems so important. Although I do not have autism, I can relate to your daughter. It is hard to break up activities into several catagories, when one or two is just fine.
    I was introduced to the Sims a few years ago ... OMG .... I have learned that I can never play that game again!!

  3. Interesting how i shared some of the same obsessions with Cirwen... and im the same, when i get obsessed with something, it lasts yearsss...

  4. My daughter too goes through her obsessions. And for a long, long time her obsession was Judy Garland. Yes...and not just Wizard of Oz, but all the movies she was in and all of her music. She still is puzzled why Judy looked so old when she died...and I tried to explain it...but her grasps of bad medicine only spilled into her not wanting to take tylenol when she had a fever.

    Thankfully, she still loves Judy but we are no longer obsessed. I just let the phase run its course. We are on to obsessing with this silly Ed Edd and Eddie game on the internet and those annoying videos. The Judy Garland phase was much more diva like.

    Stop by my blog...I finally posted one!! YEAH. I know you said you could not comment and I hope they fix that soon!!

    Cheers, Jenn.

  5. Obsession or Passion? :) All in perspective.
    As always, great post.

  6. Interesting post as always. I find my husband's obsessiveness rather disturbing on occasions, as once he wants to know more about something, he doesn't atop until he knows everything about it. It annoys me the way he just focuses so much on one thing to the exclusion of everything else.

  7. Hi, glad to have found your blog. My family has Autism, ADD, ADHD tendancies running through us kids. My older brother is Autistic, I wrote about him on my blog. I have had autistic tendencies, been obsessed with several different things... most recently finding Weight Watchers points values in the entire Betty Crocker Cookbook, cleaning my house through the whole night (used to happen more frequently) and now on to writing though to a lesser degree. I found that living a gluten free diet helps me. My younger brother Daniel had ADD, Evan ADD and I am not sure about my sis.

    Autism is a bugger to deal with, you sound like an understanding parent. :D

  8. Thank you all for putting up with me. It looks like my comments posting is finally fixed (phew!)

    Strawberry Girl: I'm glad you found me. Autism can be a "bugger", but since it's there we have to deal with it and see positive sides to it as well :-)

  9. Libertine,
    I was just thinking about you earlier today, thinking about how much I missed your posts and comments. It is so good to hear from you, welcome back.