Door obsession

(26 Posts)
theDudesmummy Sun 19-May-13 13:41:18

I wonder if anyone else has been through this, or had any thoughts? We have thought of this so far as a somewhat amusing quirk/game, but today it really hit home that it was becoming a serious problem. We had planned a day out to the Zoo for weeks, there was the Special Needs children's day there today, the Makaton "singing hands" ladies were doing live shows, there were animals to touch, a band, special events etc.

Well, me, DH and DS (ASD, age nearly 4) have just come back from there after just over an hour, with me pretty much in tears and all three of us upset (sorry if any of you were there and were treated to the awful high pitched screaming that went on!). DS had no interest at all in anything at all at the Zoo, in fact he noticed absolutely nothing apart from the sliding doors on the shops and cafes. When taken away from the doors he had a huge meltdown that just would not stop no matter what. I took him to see the Makaton ladies, he did not even notice they were there.

You cannot now take DS anywhere where there is a sliding door without him having to make it open and close incessantly, and if you take him away from it he may have an uncontrollable meltdown (not always by any means, but often). This means problems in shops, clinics, hospitals, leisure facilities, even walking along streets etc. Shop managers and people in buildings where there are sliding doors generally do not like a toddler standing opening and closing the door incessantly! It is a nuisance and sometimes a serious safety hazard, in their eyes.

He can get to the point where it seems nothing else exists in the world but The Door and the desire to get to The Door.

OP’s posts: |
PolterGoose Sun 19-May-13 14:22:36

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

signandsmile Sun 19-May-13 14:42:51

oh yes! 'magic doors' I remember it well, we coped by making a rule, that we would always stop and watch for three opens and shuts, iyswim, then we would go. "three open, three shut, then we go" was the mantra, (spoken and signed), and he seemed to accept that as the rule, once we established it. We once spent a trip to the wildlife park ignoring the animals and captivated by the double gates into the petting zoo section. blush

NeedToMoan Sun 19-May-13 18:19:05

Hi, hang in there. He will probably move on to something else. My little man has quite short lived obsessions but we definitely had the door thing for a while, opening and closing the bleeding things all the time and it's nerve wracking too cos you're half expecting a finger to get chopped off! 4 was about the age, we also had a table with flaps on it and he used to incessantly bang them. Toothbrushes down the loo. Loo rolls chucked in the bath. This is quite cathartic for me, as I'm realising how much he has moved on (he's 6 now). I still haven't braved the zoo with him either so as PolterGoose has said, well done you :-). He still has obsessions by the way but they are more manageable, like fave TV programmes or vids, games etc.

cansu Sun 19-May-13 18:36:47

This is the sort of thing that I find v hard. I really feel for you. Ds hasn't had the sliding door thing but he has had lots of other mad obsessions that have made life hard. Current one is rubbish. Ripping up things and breaking things deliberately so they can be put in the bin! I have at times got v upset about this but keep telling myself it will pass. The others have but it is hard to know how long you need to hang on for. I think as he is little the idea of we watch three times and then leave is quite a good one. If you have anyone helpful who could help you with the meltdowns you could perhaps go out once a week purposefully to practise? This might sound like a mad idea but you will at least know whether or not the obsession can be tamed or not.

tacal Sun 19-May-13 18:50:28

my ds, also 4, has a door obsession but not the sliding doors just normal doors. It makes life so difficult at times. I can really sympathise with you. The watch three times then leave does sound like a good idea.

jomaman Sun 19-May-13 21:39:46

hi, i feel for you too, ds1 has been obsessed with doors of all kinds, in fact anything with a hinge, although as his language and comprehension have improved over the years it has become easier to distract and/or reason with him.

As a toddler he couldn't go past metal railings and gates, which made walking out of the house with him impossible... I feel for you.

In our case it has improved vastly with time and ABA helped too. We were at the zoo today and for first time ever he was interested (momentarily!) in animals and regular stuff like bouncy castle etc, rather than the gates and bins. tbh we were in the singing hands room and it was a bit of a scrum and ds1 and ds2 (who is NT) only managed about 5 mins before becoming overwhelmed with it all! Sorry, I don't have any advice other than hang in there...

dev9aug Sun 19-May-13 22:27:55

Is your consultant aware of this and if he is, is there a program he can devise to tackle this?

PolterGoose Sun 19-May-13 22:32:25

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

dev9aug Sun 19-May-13 22:58:32

I know polter I have a stack full of stuff myself which is never going to be used again. I referred to a program as the OP's son is on a home ABA programme at the moment....nothing sinister, honest.blush

salondon Mon 20-May-13 02:42:50

Like others said, you are braver than many of us.

I agree with Dev, your ABA program could cover redirection to other activities.

theDudesmummy Mon 20-May-13 14:06:06

I don't know about brave! But I do have a determination that we are going to go and do things in the community and DS is not going to end up living in a little safe autism bubble! Yes the singing hands room was a bit hot and crowded, but we got there practically first (before Suzanne even arrived!) and it wasn't then, and Tracey even sang DS a little song of his own and he still took no notice because The Door was calling him! It was so hearbreaking! DH was so upset about it, he had been going on for days to DS about how he was going to see the ladies...

Well luckily we have a workshop with our consultant tomorrow and I have already emailed him about this experience so he can think about it in advance! My lead tutor, who is great, also has ideas. We shall sort out a plan tomorrow.

I can't tell you how much better it made me fel yesterday afternoon when I saw the replies about children who have had obsessions, including even a door obsession, and it has not lasted forever! In DS's case in fact, we have recently managed to pretty well eliminate his most challenging behaviour (headbanging), and some others like lightswitches and gates have faded a lot. So I feel there is hope! Thanks for all the input. Hope others enjoyed the Zoo day! See you there next year!

OP’s posts: |
Kakty3 Tue 21-May-13 00:41:46

DS is 3y7m and it was simple gates and doors last year, then traffic lights (how about spending five hours a day on the single street crossing going back and forth on the traffic lights, instead of being on the beach), then sliding doors (shops, Tube, etc.), which he is still pretty keen on...

In fact, his favourite "escape" of the moment is either to move his arms or any two identical objects as if they were sliding doors, and then it's one of the two options: either these are sliding doors in a lift (and he would say "First floor", "Second floor", "Third floor") or a tube (and he would say "Doors closing, next station is <insert a name of a tube station we frequent>). He also tries to imitate the sound signal they use on the Tube, when it's the latter option smile

The current obsession when outside is code locks (which are also everywhere, every shop and cafe and building site) and he spots them like an eagle eye, but luckily all it takes is to push a few buttons (from DP's entry code which he remembers one year on) and then move on to the next thing.

We also tried the Zoo twice now (most recently last month) and he had no interest in any animals (looked at fish for a bit), although he very much enjoyed the bouncy castle, where he continued to jump around on his own, paying no attention to other children.

theDudesmummy Tue 21-May-13 16:07:40

Yes, the no interest in animals in my DS at the Zoo all over. I suppose I find these things difficult to cope with sometimes, I remember myself as a child and how I just loved going to the Zoo and hearing about all the animals, playing games with toy versions when I got home etc etc....and DS gets none of that, which just makes me feel sad I suppose. And other children there all looking and enjoying, oh there's a tiger etc...It's that usual unwelcome feeling of comparing and thinking "if only..." It always gets me!

We had our workshop today and the consultant and the whole team took to the high street with DS to analyse the door behaviour. We are now going to be going into a desensitisation programme, with him having to walk through sliding doors at the shops (without playing with them!) several times a day. And what we should have done at the Zoo of course, was leave immediately when the door tantrum started (it's only human though, isn't it, to want to try and stay to see if things might settle down, even though I knew in my heart of hearts he was beyond the tantrum point of no return! We'd paid, planned, made a big effort and had a big build-up about the Zoo trip and I found it really hard to abandon! I need to be tougher!).

OP’s posts: |
Aika Tue 21-May-13 20:02:54

OP, hang in there. This could have been my DS!

We like all types of doors!
We often can't get past the gates to a park, because DS has to make sure they are closed after each person going in. We've also had a trip to a museum when we spent about an hour in front of automatic doors. We didn't pay for the tickets though so were pretty relaxed.
Another obsession is retractable barriers for queue control - I was properly shouted at in the hospital yesterday when DS got fixated on playing with one.

Flappingandflying Tue 21-May-13 20:23:14

Toilets. Flushing. Washing machines. Hoovers. Hand dryers. The hoover thing and washing machine does at least mean that now he does all my hoovering and does his own washing.

Feel for you but it will get better.

Flappingandflying Tue 21-May-13 20:25:37

Another really useful thing is that Flyingboy always knows where there is a loo and can find a loo in a shop or restaurant without blinking. Has been very handy once we stopped the stage of HAVING to go to the loo and talking about it to people!

signandsmile Tue 21-May-13 21:54:40

kakty3, we used to refer to it as 'doing doors' and ds used it to relax, calm down, his favourite items to make doors were two dvd cases, and they would either slide apart and be magic doors, or open and shut with a hinge, iyswim...

It's odd, as I can't pinpoint when doors stopped, but thinking about it now I can see he hasn't resorted to them for well over a year... shock grin

ouryve Tue 21-May-13 22:05:01

DS1 has been through a series of obsessions. At 4, his big one was suspended ceilings with all their adornments - lights (oh, he loved lights!), air extractors, smoke alarms etc. He would spend hours drawing them, though it took us a while to work out what all the squares on the paper were, at first.

He's been through various obsessions, some transient, some persistent. I know he's feeling stressed because he starts drawing street lights. He memorises the street lights anywhere we visit regularly and wrote an email to the council when the one outside our house was broken!

And yes, doors. All kinds of doors. Something else he draws, but not as much as street lights! And windows. All different styles of windows. He has a particular fascination for boarded up windows and doors, builds them into his lego creations and even built a boarded up house in Minecraft, today!

theDudesmummy Wed 22-May-13 07:29:15

It's encouraging that these things move on and change! As I said above, we have had gates and light switches in the past, but these are no longer of much interest, but the doors have been the flavour for quite a long time now....

In the lightswitch phase we spent a whole consultation with a paediatrician sitting in the dark because DS just kept switching the light off (and the room had no windows!)

My DS does not have the ability (yet anyway) to draw or make models etc, and he is non-verbal so cannot talk about the doors, so he is left with only two options to feed his door habit, either actually playing with them, or frantically signing for "open" and "close"!

We got him a cupboard with a sliding front but that is not interesting enough! I looked briefly into what it would cost to put an electronic sliding door in our house (thousands of pounds)! Our behavioural consultant however believes that we should be gaining control of his behaviours in a wider sense (not just about the doors, but in general) and did not think a personal sliding door was a good idea!

OP’s posts: |
Galaretka86 Sat 27-Jul-19 04:47:36

Hi,
I have a student that has a similar issue with a sliding door. How did you manage to help DS to manage his obsessive behaviour? Thanks!

WingingIt74 Sat 27-Jul-19 22:12:17

OMG, this post could have absolutely been written about my DS about 3 years ago! grin

DS developing an obsession with doors at about 12 months and he's now 5.5 and he still loves them, although the interest has developed into different sub-topics since then - lift doors, train doors, revolving doors etc.

We basically had huge problems out and about when Ds was around 20-25 months. Had to leave lots of venues - museums, soft play etc because he kept trying to go for alarmed fire doors etc.

Basically, i've come to see it now for what it is - less of an intellectual interest and more of a stim. He gets sensory kicks from it that really bring out deep joy / excitement.

Anyway, we had a great support worker at the local children's centre who basically suggested that trying to stop him wanting doors was probably a pointless exercise. She suggested that we substitute 'bad doors' that we didn't want him to touch for 'good doors' that he could play with when out and about. Basically, I went on Ebay and bought a job lot of lego / duplo doors in various styles, sizes, colours etc and had some on me at all times - in my pockets, in the car, change bag etc. When I wanted to divert him from a real door, I whipped out a lego door to keep him occupied. Totally worked! Trips out became a lot easier after that.

A lot of my son's favourite toys over the past few years have involved doors, hatches, levers etc of some kind. So we're big on dolls houses, lift the flap books etc in our house.

I think fighting this kind of thing is futile - just work round it...

Galaretka86 Sun 28-Jul-19 06:19:20

Hi WingingIt74 !
Thank you so much for answering. I was really interested in what happened to him and how did you work on his obsessions. Replacing the door with various toys having the same function sounds like a very good idea. Also, when you develop the child's functional play skills, enrich his environment, you can see that this sort of repetitive/obsessive behaviours will decrease. I'm glad to hear that it's getting better now. Wish you good luck!

WingingIt74 Sun 28-Jul-19 07:18:49

Hi Galaretka86,

We basically worked on trying to expand his interests, initially that was looking at different types of doors - he started to gravitate towards automated train doors, from there we went to looking at other features of trains - automated announcements, colours of seats, overhead wires etc. Trains then started to become a separate interest in their own right - so we started to look at different types of trains. He’s hugely into London Underground trains at the moment and we watch videos of them on YouTube. He still loves the doors and stims massively when they open and close. But now he’s also interested in the colours of the tube lines, which stations are above/below ground, where you change for particular destinations etc. He’s like a sponge - he soaks it all up. So his play has developed beyond just ‘open / close’ to things like passengers getting on/off trains, trains driving away through tunnels etc.

Galaretka86 Sun 28-Jul-19 08:56:19

I think that this is a great opportunity to teach him more play skills. For example, you can introduce figurines and he will be opening and closing doors for people and animals, for the fire truck going on a mission etc. and maybe progressively introduce yourself to the play and then his friends so the play will become more social. It sounds like his interest is expanding way beyond the door which is amazing. Does he have any issues with social skills? with his peers at schools?

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