Anxiety from obsession...What to do??

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Lori52204
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27 Nov 2010, 8:41 am

My son (5) is obsessed with racing, specifically NASCAR. He loves to watch the races on tv, watch old races on tape, and play NASCAR video games or watch others (and even the demo mode) race. The problem is, this causes him a lot of anxiety when the race doesn't go the way he thinks it should. He can get aggressive if things don't work out the way he wants. He has a very low tollerance for frustration, so that may be related.

Any ideas how to ease his anxiety with this? Getting him to give up racing is NOT an option - he will tell ANYONE that "life IS a race".

Thanks.



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27 Nov 2010, 8:58 am

Does he have to watch the races live? Can you tell him who wins in advance, so that the races always turn out the right way, at least until his frustration level decreases? Even with a videogame, sometimes you can decide in advance who win and play accordingly. Most kids would not accept that, but someone with autism might while you work with him on understanding that things won't always turn out the way he wants. Hard lesson. Could take years. Essential, though. Great that he is giving you an avenue to address it now. It would not be easier later.

I've never worked with a child that young, but I wonder about teaching him about randomness through another game-- something where luck is a major factor. Even flipping a coin with him and talking about all the things that can go different ways in something like a race. Kids with autism sometimes need to have a deeper understand than is usually age appropriate. Really try to help him understand why races turn out in unexpected ways. Give him a conceptual framework-- introduce at least the idea of probability. Explain to him the difference between relevant and irrelevant factors. Do these things when you can and keep working. Again, it will likely take years.


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RainingRoses
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27 Nov 2010, 9:35 am

Wow, he sounds like me -- both now and 30 years ago! I have always been obsessional (with OCD being "comorbid" with AS) and have always been an irrational perfectionist. The two fit very well together, not surprisingly, and lead to tremendous frustration when things don't go "right." Even when it looks like they have gone right, I often feel as though they could have gone just a bit better. There's no end to the frustration sometimes. My parents always treated this as an "oh, just lighten up" issue, but it's not. It truly doesn't work to try to convince someone like this that what he cares about is either not worth caring about or should be cared about less. Although I was never aggressive about, it was definitely not under my control such that I could just laugh off a bad outcome. It sounds like you're treating this with a little more insight than my parents did; but, that said, I really don't know how to treat this correctly. Otherwise I would, I think. I say "I think" because this insistence on things turning out right has made me an extremely hard worker, and that hard work has really paid off at times. It's both a blessing and a curse.


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