Autism & Asperger's Syndrome Expert Forum
11-Year-Old Aspie with Strange Phobia
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11-Year-Old Aspie with Strange Phobia

I have an 11-year-old boy with Asperger's. He has a very unusual and strange fear of a Leap Frog toy that teaches ABCs (here's a link of what it is: www.toystoreinc.com/catalog/phonicsdesk.jpg). He used to love this toy so much as a tot but now he's extremely afraid of it. He is afraid of it most when it shuts off automatically and says "Bye for now!". He doesn't talk about it, but when I bring it up, he tenses up and leaves the room. I hid it away in the storage room, which seemed to lessen the anxiety a great deal (as our children aren't allowed in there). Unfortunetly, his little sister is gonna be 4 in a few weeks and knowing her letters and sounds is important for her second year of Preschool. I don't know about getting out the toy again because it might scare him, plus if I did, I might even really disrupt his summer vacation doing this. And my Preschooler has to know her letters/sounds this fall. Is it normal to have a strange phobia like this? I mean, I think this is weird and kind of insane for an 11-year-old tween to have a fear like this? Should I get out the toy for my Preschooler? Please Help! I NEED it in this dilemma!
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I think it would benefit your son to learn to tolerate the toy. I am sure that there are other ways for your 4-year-old to learn her letters, but this is also a learning opportunity for your son. If you decide to bring out the toy, try to do so in a sensitive way that will help your son learn to tolerate it. At first, allow him to be far enough away from the toy so that he can't hear it, although he knows it is around (this will also require cooperation from your daughter). Work with him to identify an appropriate way to handle the situation (e.g., a relaxation technique, staying busy with something he enjoys). When he does well, gradually expose him more and more to the toy. If this helps, you can apply this technique to other sitations that are problematic. If at any point you encounter a severe reaction (e..g., aggression, destroying property, self-injury), please stop and seek the assistance of a Board Certified Behavior Analyst. A list of professionals is available at the website of the BACB.
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Jason C Bourret, Ph.D., BCBA-DBlank
The New England Center for Children
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