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Almost 3 year old obsessions - normal?

(42 Posts)
Lelivre Sat 17-Oct-15 11:41:27

Dc2 appears to be NT in every respect except for his fascination with shapes.

As soon as he knew basic shape names at around 14 months and could chat away (he developed good conversation youngish) about them. He would talk about his environment in terms of shapes - identifying them everywhere.

Until recently it seemed like an unusual interest and I found it sweet and amusing, but now it's gone through the roof...He sings about them, draws them, makes them out of playdoh, traces them with his finger in the air, collects them, talks to them, puts them to bed etc. Basically he get enough of shapes. He knows many of the more advanced shapes (my fault in that I've introduced them) and identifies types of triangle, asks me to draw dodecagon's, rectangular prisms etc etc

Amost two years after this began it is more intense than ever.

The only time he doesn't talk about shapes is when he is playing in a park or garden.

It is almost as if he sees the world in shapes. But more than that he loves loves loves them.

Any thoughts? I haven't been concerned at all until recently because he is more preoccupied than ever.

He has an uncle with Aspergers but I can't discern any other traits in my son.

Otherwise he is an ordinary child...He has very good fine motor skills (cuts out with scissors 5cm stars surprising well), a good vocabulary, very conversational, extroverted, loves company, lots of eye contact etc. He is starting to write numbers and letters (soon switches to shapes) but I wouldn't say he is unusually advanced.

Should I be encouraging discouraging? It is at a point where I'm starting to feel it is way too much and not 'healthy'

Lelivre Sat 17-Oct-15 11:42:54

Sorry that was longer than I had intended.

AnotherTimeMaybe Sat 17-Oct-15 11:48:32

I think if a child is NT or not is not defined by how well he cuts shapes with the scissors
It's more to do with how social he is with other children same age, how good he is on imaginative play, how good his communication is and how repetitive/OCD he is

If he has no issues on the first 3, I wouldn't worry about the last one

Lelivre Sat 17-Oct-15 11:59:33

Thanks, yes I do realise that about the scissors. I was just asking myself if he had any other unusual traits and he doesn't...Except his lettering and fine motor skills do seem advanced but I only have one older child to compare with, his cutting and tracing is as good as hers.

I have no concerns regarding his social skills or his ability to be imaginative.

My daughters teacher suggested OCD. But I don't know what to look out for in that regard. He doesn't like it if I do not draw a shape correctly or join the corners but he doesn't 'lose it' he just corrects me.

longdiling Sat 17-Oct-15 12:09:22

He certainly sounds advanced to me! I think wierd little obsessions at this age are quite 'normal'. My friend's little boy was obsessed with washing machines. Every house he went in to the first thing he would do was check them out (and tumble driers). They used to take him to Currys as a treat! It was all he ever drew and he had loads of the toy ones. I can still hear his little voice saying 'washing machine! tumble drier!', 10 years later. He outgrew the obsession in the end.

I suppose the main thing is, does it interfere with his life? Does it make him upset or unable to interact with his peers or play normally? If the answer to all that is no then I guess it doesn't matter whether he is more obsessed than normal. He sounds like a bright and quirkly little character, you must be very proud, shape obsession and all.

Lelivre Sat 17-Oct-15 12:27:43

Thanks longdiling your post has made me feel better.

I think he is slightly advanced with a few things, he can identify all letters and neatly write them but this is just following his sisters lead. He concentrates well compared to lots of little boys I have observed and he likes to sit down and do what she is doing, but it soon turns to shape names and drawings! Yes he interacts very well and he is fairly content and settled. But this shapes thing is constant, from morning to night. It doesn't interfere with his/our life exactly except we are more than bored with the subject!

The boy with the washing machine story makes me feel better.

It was our family background and the way this interest has escalated in recent weeks that had me getting a bit concerned.

Lelivre Sat 17-Oct-15 12:30:52

As I write the reply above, I realise this escalation has coincided with my daughter starting my school.

So more time for him alone amusing himself whilst I take advantage of this change to finally catch up in the home (my daughter is full and needs loads of 1:1) hmmmmmm...

toastandmarmaladewithacupoftea Sun 18-Oct-15 08:00:26

He does sound very advanced, and might turn out to be very able. It's a cliché, but a certain amount of quirkiness can go with that. Given that his social and imaginative skills are good and it isn't causing a problem (for him grin) I wouldn't worry for now. Of course you'll continue to look out for any emerging problems - as we all do.

I come from a family with some very high ability, quirky people. There are some ASD type traits, but I honestly think they are only traits and part of the 'difference' of their minds. I love those differences - my brother (who is very different and very clever) is one of my favourite people in the world, and I feel privileged to know him.

The only thing I would be a little cautious of at this stage is whether he might start alienating his peers, if he insists on talking about shapes with them. I've just read Marie Murray's book on bullying, and apparently it can start in pre-school, and a risk factor is 'attention seeking behaviour, or antagonising other children by subjecting them to long, boring stories or demanding their participation in unusual hobbies'. Helping him learn to communicate well with his peers will continue to be important if he's very able.

Lelivre Sun 18-Oct-15 09:33:01

Toastandmarmalade - a very helpful post, thank you very much.

He is yet to go to nursery but will start soon. I had some 1:1 time with my daughter yesterday and we were just quiet at home; I asked her if she had enjoyed it, 'yes, I don't like hearing shape songs all of the time, I like shapes, but not ALL of the time'.

So I will look out for this and I'm going to make more of an effort to play with him when his sister is at school and getting him outside. My husband has suggested getting him into Lego, so I will try that too.

Also the points about your family ring true. Both my brother and my husbands brother (with ASD) are exceptionally bright so perhaps he will prove to be. He isn't reading or doing sums or any such thing (his sister was at this age, all driven by her I hasten to add) so I didn't think of him as being particularly forward but perhaps he is/will be in his own quirky way!

I do feel reassured that this is not overly strange behaviour, thank you to all who have posted.

c4kedout Sun 18-Oct-15 11:11:11

often, if children are on the spectrum but are very high functioning, things only get difficult later in school when the social side of things gets more complex.

does his shape obsession in the way of normal activities? does is sort of dictate your day? what happens if you interrupt or try to prevent or distract him from his shape obsession?

Lelivre Sun 18-Oct-15 11:50:17

It doesn't dictate our day and he doesn't mind distractions or interruptions but we very soon gravitate back to the subject. For example today he has been given a truck. He has drawn and cut out shapes and transporting them to a 'wedding' in the new truck hmm

c4kedout Sun 18-Oct-15 11:55:51

hmm..would keep an eye on it. certainly unusual and intense but if it doesn't interfere with your life as such and everything else appears fine U would not worry too much. you would not get help in any case (have a severely autistic child and know the 'system')

<off to google rectangular prism now> grin

Lelivre Sun 18-Oct-15 12:23:11

c4kedout - thanks for your post. That sounds tough and I hope the support does come along for you and your DC.

My BIL has never had a diagnosis. But it's is clear to me as someone who has worked with people with Asperger (as in hired into my team) that this is him to a T. If he had had a diagnosis when he was growing up I'm sure life would be quite different for him now, but it was a different age with respects to ASD (BIL is in his 50s).

So just now I bent down to put DS shoes on and immediately he began to trace with his finger on my back and asked me I identify the...SHAPE. Get the picture?!? confused

WildStallions Sun 18-Oct-15 12:30:32

I think there's lots to be concerned about wrt him having Aspergers from your posts.

But I also think from what you've said you can wait a bit and don't need to rush to get a dx (or not) at the moment.

c4kedout Sun 18-Oct-15 12:33:39

is he at nursery OP? how does he get on there?

Lelivre Sun 18-Oct-15 12:39:06

He starts in January. He is outside now and the subject (shapes) is unlikely to come up.

In a group he is fine. At a party he is the first on the dance floor and the last off, he does like to sing and dance. He mixes well, he is confident and can't wait to go to school. He does however expect others to be as enamoured with shapes as he is ... So if you take shapes out of the equation there are no concerns. But they are there. All. The. Time. grin

Lelivre Sun 18-Oct-15 12:41:06

Oh I was wrong shapes did come up in the garden. He saw our neighbour and told him all about them. So maybe it really is getting worse.

ShowOfHands Sun 18-Oct-15 12:41:48

I think you just have to wait and see. You might find that him going to a nursery or preschool illuminates a few things for you. Most of his behaviours sound utterly as you'd expect and it might just be a toddler obsession, it might be indicative of something else.

My dd is pretty bright, was reading, writing and doing maths at your son's age. However, she's utterly NT, always was. There was never any question. She was clearly just clever. My niece on the other hand was always bright, like your ds knew her letters, numbers and shapes (oh God she loved shapes) and she is autistic. We knew she was autistic but my DB and SIL put it down to her being quirky and bright (they knew too in hindsight but they weren't ready to face it). It took preschool's interventions for them to accept it. I must absolutely stress here that there were other indications that my DN was autistic. She had a really spiky profile. There was, to our eyes, no doubt but a lot of her her autistic behaviours were dismissed by her parents as a sign of being advanced or quirky. Your DS doesn't sound remotely like my DN and I'm not making a comparison but I will admit that yes, her shape obsession was part of her autism. Still is.

c4kedout Sun 18-Oct-15 12:42:22

would just waitand see I think. he is only 3 and you don't have other concerns. will be interesting to see what happens at nursery. he sounds lovely smile

ShowOfHands Sun 18-Oct-15 12:48:55

My niece who is autistic is always first on the dance floor and last off. She loves to sing and dance. However, she isn't engaging with it in the way you'd expect an NT child to. She would always face the lights of the disco but to a slight angle so that she could watch them out of the corner of her eyes and her dancing was actually stimming and she does it now without the music (but sort of sings at the same time).

I, likewise, know plenty of dc who are first on, last off the dance floor who don't display any autistic traits.

I don't think it's ever as easy as 'well they do x' or 'they don't do y'. So often it's how they do it, when, what stimulates them to do it and what happens when they can't.

Does that make sense?

ShowOfHands Sun 18-Oct-15 12:49:38

I agree that he sounds lovely btw. smile And very happy. I bet he's a fabulous little boy.

Lelivre Sun 18-Oct-15 13:05:38

Showofhands - I totally get what you mean. Thank you. Yes he doesn't sing and dance in a odd wild-and-free way, but in a I-love-to-party and 'joining in' kind of way IYSWIM. He mixes well with all ages. Whereas my daughter from the get-go preferred older children and was forward with everything but certainly NT (albeit precocious) but brainy as you describe your dad to be and has been branded as 'studious' by school after one month of being there; if there is such thing as a studious 5 yr old.

Anyway back to DS, I will keep an eye and try to diversify with our play...

Lelivre Sun 18-Oct-15 13:06:29

dd not dad haha

Lelivre Sun 18-Oct-15 13:09:13

He did get in my bed at 7:30 one morning this week and say: mummy I want to learn about galaxies. I was: yes! A new subject!!!!

But I have failed to find anything age appropriate that is astronomy related at the moment. The video books and apps I've come across so far are losing him. I'm slightly fearful he is interested because planets are spherical grin

Ferguson Sun 18-Oct-15 16:50:17

Lego, of course, is great for all kinds of skills, developments, and imagination. But be forewarned - Lego is ALL shapes!

Music and computer coding are other things he might well enjoy, a little later if not immediately.

Many years ago I did a bit of 'Projective Geometry' at evening class, and that is a weird but interesting subject, and I'll post a link.

Does DS like drawing with a ruler? And a pair of compasses can create all sorts of interesting, maths-type patterns. Also, the old Spirograph toy can be great fun to use.

Yet another 'shapes' world - and possibly the best - is Fractals, mysterious and beautiful, and all based on maths.

If you do consider enabling him to explore music (if he isn't already) a Keyboard is the perfect introduction - at least 61 full-size keys, not a 'toy' one. I have several replies on music, if you do a MN Search on my name + keyboard, piano, music etc.

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