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Extreme obsessions

Hi I am a mother of a 10 years old ADHD boy.
I just want to know if is normal for these children to have obsessions and how address them. My son has been a passionate fan of Movie characters all his life and recently to singers. It seems to me extreme some times. He dresses up like them, reads all the books and only the books about his characters about them. In fact his character is his only conversation topic. Sometimes this just drive me nuts.

Replies

My 8 y.o. is like this as well.  However, he also has Asperger’s as well as severe ADHD.  I know that ADHD can have some obsessiveness associated with it.  We found that our son’s got worse when we started him on his stimulant medication.  Doctor then prescribed an anti-anxiety/depressant medication and things calmed down a lot - for a while.

As he’s getting older, however, his obsessions are coming back.  I think it’s really a combination of lack of impulse control which leads to the obsessiveness -can’t control talking about or doing something when the urge/need hits him.

The psychologist that diagnosed his Asperger’s did tell us that perseveration over 1 topic/item is a major component of Asperger’s.

You may want to talk to his doctor.  I’ve found that the line between ADHD and Asperger’s is very blurred the more research I do on both.  The symptoms are very similar (social awkwardness, perseveration, lack of impulse control, executive function deficits, tantrums, sensory issues, etc.) and overlap a lot.  Could be you don’t have a full diagnosis as of yet.

Good luck!

Posted by ANMom on Nov 06, 2012 at 9:57pm

My 8 yr old son has ADHD only - but does become obsessed about certain things.  He was recently obsessed with Michael Jackson’s songs (we did not let him delve into his personal life) where he would listen to them and watch videos endlessly.  He does seem to concentrate on one ‘character/event’ at a time.  Transformers, then Beyblades, then Star Wars, then Legos, etc.  However, sometimes he returns to past toys with a vengence, but still one thing at a time.

I don’t find it to be detrimental at his stage.  But if you are concerned, check with your doc.

Posted by nashholiday on Nov 07, 2012 at 12:32am

My son, age 10, ADD has always been obsessed with Wolves since age 3. I never thought ADD and his obsession could be related. I suppose there could be worse things they could be or get obsessed with. My son reads every book he can get his hands on about wolves. His room is decorated in wolves, he wears wolf shirts, he knows everything and is a walking dictionary about wolves. He begged me last night to go to a wolf reservation to see them if he wrote a report on them. However, I don’t mind this obsession because he has a healthy balance in his life with other things he enjoys. I guess we need to ask ourselves do they enjoy other things and does this obsession consume their every day life? If not, then I wouldn’t worry about it. If so, then I would seek advice from a professional. Sometimes it drives me nuts too but we love them!

Posted by critrlvr4u on Nov 07, 2012 at 1:52am

That depends on a lot of things. Is he obsessed with only one character or several? How long has he been obsessed? Does he talk about it when it is inappropriate to do so? For instance, when you try to speak to him about a family matter, does he come back at you with a question or statment about these characters? Do others get bored an walk away while he is still talking. Does he notice when others walk away?

Kids can become obsessed about things, but if you answered yes to several of these questions; you may wish to have your son evaluated for an autistic spectrum disorder. Narrow focused long-term obsessions are typical in autistic kids.

Posted by SueH on Nov 07, 2012 at 5:08am

My son is 8 1/2 has ADHD and is hig-functioning Asperger’s syndrome. Ever since I could remember he obsesses about things. It changes at times, but when he’s focused on that one thing, it is exhausting. Everything he does/play/reads/act-out/draws has to do with that one thing.

It’s interesting to hear how many other ADHD kids have this tendency. We have always attributed this to the Asperger’s, but maybe there is a correlation with ADHD as well.

We try introduce new things, or change the subject so that the entire day is not consumed by that one thing. It takes work on our part, otherwise he’d go at it day and night.

Posted by munkiblu on Nov 07, 2012 at 5:22am

Thanks so much for the answers! He was diagnosed for ADHD but I will ask his doctor about Asparger’s Syndrome test.  I have always thought those obsessions are harmless but he is getting older and clearly other kids are not interested in his endless topic. I feel he is isolating himself more because of that.

Posted by dianagisell on Nov 07, 2012 at 6:32am

My 8 yr old ADHD son is the same too. He will hyper focus or obsess on something for days and sometimes months. Dinosaurs and Pirates of the Carribbean are hs longest running ones. He has also spent weeks at a time consumed by rock hunting, snail hunting etc. it gets exhausting sometimes. He’s always been this way, but I’d say his stimulant has made it a bit worse or more troublesome. We recently switched him from Focalin XR to Vyvanse and he actually seems to be able to separate himself from obsessions more easily. It’s only been a week, but I’m hoping the trend continues. I mean the pirate thing has gotten so bad at times that I’ve had to hide his movies, accessories and related toys. On the one hand it’s kind if funny, on the other….it’s too much.

Posted by JS on Nov 07, 2012 at 11:00am

My 9yr old son is like this as well, he has been diagnosed as having severe ADHD and for awhile it was Transformers and he still loves those things and has a ton of them but lately he has been going through a shark thing.  He also often cannot control his impulse to tell you something he feels is critically important, especially if he feels it will convince you his way is best!

Posted by steelerfan500 on Nov 07, 2012 at 11:11pm

My son is 18 & is adhd but only last year diagnosed with high functioning aspergers.  He has always had obsessions & mainly with wildlife as he is a true outdoorsman.  The last few years it has been deer.  Her draws them, photographs them & hunts for their antler sheds, any one or more of these on a daily basis. I try not to worry to much about it because he does like other things & this does not hurt anyone. It got to the point in high school that they started calling him “deer boy” & things like that.  His dr. said his obsession is textbook aspergers.  Wish I had some advice but for me just knowing he is not alone helps.  Wish I could also tell you it gets better with age.  He is just very happy & content with this obsession so I can’t really complain.

Posted by Patience on Nov 07, 2012 at 11:13pm

My son thinks, speaks, and spends his life around videogames. He is an expert in that, and sometimes I think he is missing in real life. He is almost 20, and he rarely sees his friends. He is not engaged in any sport. It is all about videogames.

His explanation is that his main focus is to become a Paleontologyst. He has struggled with school, and he says he just wants to focus in school, and instead of smoking, drinking, or pot, he does videogames because he needs an outlet for his stress but doesn’t want an activity that will derail him from his studies.

I agree with him when he says that it is better to let some steam out by playing some game than actually taking his anger off on people.

Posted by najn on Nov 08, 2012 at 12:35am

I had the aspergers vs ADHD discussion with our Dr. He was pretty convinced my son is ADHD based on test results. My son does get very obsessed with certain things or topics but it seems like eventually he finds something new. Last year he was very interested in bats and it was nothing but bats for awhile. He was also very into Star Wars but now it’s nothing but Harry Potter and of course his longtime love of Legos. Recently he has been watching Knex videos on YouTube and fortunately we bought him some for Christmas. So we may be into the next obsession.

Posted by Buggamom on Nov 08, 2012 at 12:42am

It is nice to see these posts.  My son who Diagonsed with ADHD, even though I think he is more ADD, when he was 7 so I am still learning as we go. 

He has always been obsessed with Sonic the Hedgehog.  And I agree that the obsession take over, in one of the post someone mentions people walking away b/c they don’t share the same enthusasim as he does about things.  It really hit me last year on a field trip when he kept introducing me to his friends and they would just look at him and walk away.  It broke my heart!!  So this year, he will be 10 next month, he is taking a social skills class at school to help him.  So far it is the same but I am hoping it will help with his upcoming years in the Middle School.  But then on the other hand like another post mentioned, he works soooo hard at school, extra reading, extra math, taking his medication, doing extra homework why not let him do something he really enjoys.  Also it just wouldn’t be him if he wasn’t talking about Sonic, you know its always been there when it isn’t I worry.  Also the teachers do not like the video games and his obsession but he could be way worse and he is just a kid, they need breaks too!!

I have thought of Aspergers before but when we got the ADD Diagonse I thought that was it.  But after reading the post I am wondering.  What exactly is the Aspergers test?

This site has been such a great help!!!

Posted by hellokitty219 on Nov 08, 2012 at 2:21am

to dianagisell…
hello, I feel your pain! We have a similar story with my stepson. I can’t tell you what may be going on regarding diagnosis, but I can tell you what has worked for us behaviorally.
One of the motivations I believe drives our son’s behavior is the natural desire to be engaging in conversation. So, when his brothers or others are talking, or if he just wants to talk about something, he would interupt the conversation with what was almost always related to his current obsession. Indiana Jones, Star Wars…all the usual suspects!
What I tried was to acknowledge that he wanted to speak with us, but that we wanted to either stay on the current topic, or hear about something else. I also explained that when he became repeditive I would acknowledge him once by saying “I want to hear what you have to say, but it has to be on topic or something other than X”  I also warned him that we would not responod to him if he forgot two minutes later and mentioned the topic again. (yes, he would repeat and repeat.. As long as he gets a response, why shouldn’t he??)  We have had great success with this method in behavior modification and his ability to talk about other topics has greatly increased! He is also more socially appropriate with his peers. He now is only really compelled to talk about Star Wars when we are watching the movie!
Our son has ADHD, is developmentally delayed, and has what our doctor calls “Aspergerishishish” symptoms. Hope this helps!

Posted by Bessedwithdiversity on Nov 08, 2012 at 3:57am

to dianagisell…
hello, I feel your pain! We have a similar story with my stepson. I can’t tell you what may be going on regarding diagnosis, but I can tell you what has worked for us behaviorally.
One of the motivations I believe drives our son’s behavior is the natural desire to be engaging in conversation. So, when his brothers or others are talking, or if he just wants to talk about something, he would interupt the conversation with what was almost always related to his current obsession. Indiana Jones, Star Wars…all the usual suspects!
What I tried was to acknowledge that he wanted to speak with us, but that we wanted to either stay on the current topic, or hear about something else. I also explained that when he became repeditive I would acknowledge him once by saying “I want to hear what you have to say, but it has to be on topic or something other than X”  I also warned him that we would not responod to him if he forgot two minutes later and mentioned the topic again. (yes, he would repeat and repeat.. As long as he gets a response, why shouldn’t he??)  We have had great success with this method in behavior modification and his ability to talk about other topics has greatly increased! He is also more socially appropriate with his peers. He now is only really compelled to talk about Star Wars when we are watching the movie!
Our son has ADHD, is developmentally delayed, and has what our doctor calls “Aspergerishishish” symptoms. Hope this helps!

Posted by Bessedwithdiversity on Nov 08, 2012 at 3:57am

To hellokitty - My son was just diagnosed with Aspergers this summer.  The testing is extensive and has many steps.  We were referred by his ADHD doctor to the Autism center at our local children’s hospital.  We had an initial consultation where he and I sat with the counselor and talked about some of the things we observed.  She also observed him and asked him questions as we talked.  She recommended further testing, which consisted of 6 questionnaires for me and a series of tests that the therapist conducted alone with him (it took about 4 hours). 

It’s good to know that we are dealing with more than just ADHD, but we are still at the beginning of the process.  He is in a new school that specializes in both ADHD and Aspergers and he is absolutely thriving.  He has always had obsessions about military history, aircraft, and little plastic soldiers.  But there have been other interests that have come and gone along the way, too.  Most kids treated him the same way that you described…and he is now 16.  My son only told me last weekend the extent that he was bullied at his old school, and by kids who he thought were his friends.  Once they get into middle and high school the social issues get worse.  I would recommend testing sooner rather than later if you have a concern.  I wish you all the best!

Posted by kristalyn575 on Nov 10, 2012 at 5:29am

I am a 39 year old with ADHD. I tend to have serial obsessions, too. It’s like I become infatuated with a topic and have to learn all I can about it. Once, I was obsessed with Irish history for a couple of years. I read books and watched movies about it, downloaded Irish music, and dreamed of going to Ireland. Then, one day, I just became tired of it, and couldn’t bring myself to read any of the unfinished books I had. When the interest wanes, it’s almost impossible to get it back.

In between interests, life gets rather dull. It is exciting once another intellectual infatuation begins.

The hardest thing about this is has been really hard for me to get through college. I have majored in several things, but nothing has ever captivated my interest long enough. I can’t tell you how hard it is! I have over 180 credits and no degree. It is so difficult to learn and retain info that I can’t seem to get an interest in. :(

I hope you all have good luck with your kids!

Posted by Lastunicorn on Nov 10, 2012 at 11:29pm

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