How do you and Jim handle it when Charlie asks for things that you just don't want him to have anymore/don't think are "good" for him anymore? Henry will hound us for certain activities, dvds, books, etc. and it is so hard to tell him "no", even though we think he needs a break from that perseveration.Charlie definitely gets "stuck" about wanting certain favored items (CDs, food). But the fixation is just one part of it. Like Gretchen's Henry, Charlie often asks repeatedly for those certain things over and over. Sometimes I think his repeated, persistent, insistent requests make things even more difficult for Charlie (and in general) than his obsession about (for instance) the Louis Jordan CD or Vietnamese summer rolls. Often one request will turn into regular, repeated requestings and no answer----certainly not "no"---seems to be able to divert Charlie. Even if and when the preferred item is presented, Charlie seems only fleetingly at ease, if that. It's almost as if finally getting the preferred item just fuels more anxiety in him, as he worries about having to get it the next time. Following the advice of various ABA therapists and teachers and books, we've tried to "redirect" Charlie to some other activity or topic of speech, and to reinforce him heavily when he was engaged in these. In the short run, this sort of technique did seem to help Charlie pull himself away from whatever he was so fixedly into, and to prevent a big old tantrum/neurological storm sort of thing from occurring. (We had noted that heavy-duty obsessing can lead to Charlie having one of said "storms," as he gets, it seems, overwhelmed by his own (racing, pulsing) thoughts.) In the long run, we've noted that, even when one obsessed-over item (Barney videos) is no longer obsessed over, something else is. So the issue for us is to help Charlie manage and modulate his tendency to fixate. We used to think it best to make sure the over-obsessed items were no longer available and "ignored" Charlie's repetitious mention of them. In the past year, we've instead said "fine" to Charlie getting some of those really really wanted items and, when he's talked about them over and over, acknowledged this, usually with minimal, quiet and sometimes not exactly verbal ("uhhmmmm") sorts of language. That is, we've been acknowledging the object(s) of Charlie's obsessings, rather than not acknowledging them at all.
A few years ago we learned that providing Charlie with the foods he tends to obsess on (ketchup, bageks) had the result of him ceasing (slowly) to desire them. That is, by making the "forbidden fruits" readily available, the magic allure wore off and he ceased to be crazed to have to have those items. DVDs and CDs and certain books are a bit of a different matter, it's true. They can be available all the time and Charlie definitely gets way too drawn into the DVD and CD album covers. Lately we've tried the admittedly tricky approach of letting him have those (seemingly) much wanted DVDs and CDs, and readying ourselves for the sort of things that happened Tuesday afternoon when, listening yet again to the Disney CD, Charlie cried out, got up, and went out the door running. That went on for a good ten minutes. For me, trying to stop him (aside from being not so easy, since he's at least seven inches taller than me) is not exactly possible. So I stand by and make it clear, yes I am here and let him run it out, back and forth. Charlie did and was calmer, and then on and off frenetic for the rest of the evening, now asking for "bedtime" and then as quickly saying "no bed."He did take himself to his room by 7.30pm. He didn't sleep and asked for the CD player, "musics." Jim and I had agreed to let the CD listening go on hiatus and I knelt by the CD player and first found Charlie some jazz piano and then (after the German announcer came on for a seemingly endless amount of time), classic rock. Charlie told me to go and I did; when I stopped in to check on him ten minutes later, he was sitting solemnly on the side of his bed while "Eleanor Rigby" came on and then Lou Reed doing "A Walk on the Wild Side." Charlie does seem to need some control in his life right now, with the change in schools ahead of him. While it seems counter-logical, maybe it's precisely some randomness, some walking on that wild side, that can help to balance things out, to cast some light and breathe some air into the situation; into fixations that can't just be let go of.