Hello. My son is 4-1/2 years old, enrolled in Pre-K and currently very into dinosaurs, specifically T-Rex. All he wants to do is draw T-Rex, with his mouth open, growling. His teeth need to be red from eating meat and of course T-Rex has to always win any battle with other dinosaurs. He repeatedly asks the same questions: What kind of dinosaur is he? - A T-Rex, What is he doing with his mouth? - Growling. What color are his teeth? - Red. Why?- Because he ate another dinosaur. And so on. If you give him the wrong answer he gets very upset. Instead of writing his name on his homework assignments - he writes: T-Rex. When he is in school doing art projects all he wants to do is draw T-Rex. I had my second parent teacher conference last night and his teacher is a little concerned. He is very smart, energetic and does not display any other weird behavior except when he is going through a phase with something he is interested in. When he was 2 it was shrek. Then it was crocodiles, followed by sharks, then pirates. All very typical of a true boy. I was just wondering at what point is obsessing a problem? How can i distinguish a serious problem from just a normal phase?
Obsessing about something can be part of a number of disorders. My son is on the autistic spectrum and he obsesses about things. Something will be his current 'thing' and he will want to watch it on TV repeatedly. I know of other children at his school who have obsessions about different things. One boy always has to draw aeroplanes.
But if your son is not showing any difficulties with language and communication or social interaction then I wouldn't be too worried about it. But if you begin to notice that he isn't as socially competent as his peers then you may want to talk with your GP about him being referred for assessments.
Is your son okay with change in general or changes to routine? Does he ever repeat things you say or things he has heard on TV or from films.
A severe case of repeatedly asking the same questions over and over again is called perseverant speech and is associated with being on the spectrum.
And as well as the obsession about drawing T-Rex, he is also repeatedly wanting to ask the same questions and get the same answers and any deviation causes him to get upset. That is of some concern, however if he is developing along with his peers with language and communication and social interaction then I would not worry about it too much.
You could try, the next time he wants to draw T-Rex, that you also draw one and you deliberately draw it differently to the way he likes it, and then see what his reaction is. And if he starts to protest just put your foot down and say that your T-Rex is different because you want to draw a happy/fat/toothless etc T-Rex. And again see what his reaction is. If his reaction seems completely over the top from an emotional or anger point of view and in your opinion your child seems totally devastated by what you are trying to do (ie. not stick to the image he wants), then maybe a visit to your GP would be useful.
If you want a better idea of what being on the autistic spectrum is about, you can google DSM IV Autism or Aspergers to get the clinical diagnostic criteria that professionals look for before they give a diagnosis.
thank you so much for the info regarding the clinical diagnostic criteria, it really helped clarify what could possibly be a problem. fortunately i didn't see much that relates to my son's behavior. i'm thinking now that it's probably just another passing phase. he is very social and his language and communication skills have never been a problem - or course besides the repetative questions. but i did check out perseverant speech and again it didn't seem to relate to my son. but thank you again for taking the time to write to me. you definitely helped answer my questions and made me feel much better!
Sounds like you've had to replicate drawings/pictures too! Now my son is 8 he is much better, but as a toddler he refused to do any drawing or colouring, but would happily give me precise instructions on exactly how it had to be - and it had to be precisely like that every time. At 8 he will now draw and colour and paint by himself. He still gets upset sometimes if it isn't exactly how he wanted it to be (and I presume he is trying to replicate something he has seen), but he also draws freestyle as well now, which is nice to see.
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