Sunday, January 9, 2011

Open Door

When Ryan plays he can get caught up in repetitive behavior. When he was younger and playing with his cars he would line them up in a perfect line. I don't think if he had a ruler it could have gotten any straighter. My husband would joke that he was playing car dealership. I would tell him that no one was buying the cars. And may God help you if you would try to move any of the cars out of their line. Ryan would start screaming until the car was put back in its exact location.
One of the oddest obsession Ryan had was with doors. This lasted for over a year and Ryan would just want to open and close doors. He would not walk through the door or pretend that someone was coming to visit him, he would just open and close, open and close, over and over again. One time I was curious to see how long he would open and close a door for so I just let him do it until he got bored. He finally gave up after an hour and a half. Also if there was a door and Ryan was not allowed to play with it he would have a major meltdown. This was always difficult because in public places there are doors everywhere. It was to the point that I could not take him to any stores and would have to wait for my husband to come home to do our grocery shopping.
Ryan's therapist informed me that the repetitive behavior was a calming mechanism for Ryan. He had a hard time processing information from his world so when he would get overwhelmed he would turn to something repetitive and familiar to calm himself down.
I had to learn to make Ryan's repetitive behavior functional in some way and try to limit it, so Ryan could find more acceptable ways to cope. So I got rid of most toys that had a door on it. We would let Ryan open the door to get into our house but then he had to stop. No matter how much he cried. We tried limiting going out in public until Ryan would stop crying to open the doors at home.
The part that would make me laugh was the way that Ryan would run frantically across the parking lot to get to the mother of all doors, the double sliding automatic ones that lead into the store. As soon as Ryan was out of the car seat he would run through the parking lot at top speed with no regard for his safety, and scream "opy door! opy door!" My sister still does an excellent impersonation of Ryan doing this.
Now that Ryan is five he does not even notice doors. He probably does not even now how important they were to him. His repetitive behavior has taken a new outlet lately. That of art.
Ryan will sit at the table for hours and draw the same pictures over and over again. Or he will write words on his white board. One time Ryan's cousins joined in on his art table and all five of them were furiously completing a whole stack of art projects. My sisters and I sat back and laughed and discussed how they would make the best office workers ever.
Ryan's play is a little different from other kids his same age but I do not worry about it too much. Ryan is having fun in his own way and that is all that matters.


  1. I just found your blog through the SPD blogger awards (my daughter and I are co-nominees). I cannot believe that Kaia is NOT the only one that does this!!!

    She LOVES doors. For Christmas, we found a Step 2 doorway. Not a whole playhouse... just the door. And she loves it. Open, close, open... close.

    I actually had to tie the basement door open because she kept opening and closing it (much to the cats' dismay... their litterbox is in the basement).

    Keep in touch with this one -- I would love to hear who grows out of their door obsession first :-)


  2. oops.. I read over the end of the post where you said Ryan grew out of his door obsession... LOL. at least there is hope for the rest of us!

  3. Congratulations on getting nominated. I have never meet anyone with the same door obsession! It is nice to know I am not the only one eithier. I wish you luck with that. The best medicine is laugher I have found. Good luck on the voting!