Obsessive throwing things downstairs or in water


My grandson is 11, he is non verbal, and he has started, over the last 3 months, throwing everything downstairs, clothes, toys, shoes, toiletries, anything he can get his hands on really. He also likes to post things down the back of the sideboard, put things in water (such as all my makeup) or throw things out of the window.  

We can't take our eyes off him for a moment. My son has another child now, she is just turned one, so it is difficult to keep an eye on my Grandson constantly unless there are two of you at home.

We have put locks on the rooms upstairs to restrict his access to things to throw, I have bought him some foam shapes to throw, as these do not cause any damage, however he is a resourceful child & can throw anything, 64 wet wipes individually from a pack for example.

My son & his wife have recently split up, and my son has moved back home with us, my grandson has been used to staying with me on his own at weekends so it is his space, now my granddaughter is coming to stay on a Friday night too, he is struggling with this.

School have advised he has started doing similar things there, and they have timetabled in a specific time for him, so he gets the stimulation he needs, however it is difficult to do that at home.

Whilst I have been typing this, he has managed to open the bedroom window, and his pyjama pants ae now stuck on the porch roof, and his jigsaw pieces are on the path.

Any advice would be welcome

  • My daughter does this she generally throws things down the stairs when trying to avoid bed. She will throw anything toys, shoes books her sister. As you said it is really difficult. 

    We improved this adding extra sensory exercises and stim dancing to get some of the frustration out and have seen a massive improvement if school have noticed that this improves his behaviour then I think you need to look into it at home I know it's tough with multiple children I have 3 little ones and my partner works all hours so it's just me. Have you tried introducing a visual timetable so he can adjust to new routine?

    We also had the issue with putting things in water she would empty whole bottles of shampoo in the sink paint the mirror with any thing she could get her hands on, she would get up during the night to do this.

    We realised that this was just sensory seeking behaviour she liked the feeling/smell of the shampoo so got her a moisturiser that smells similar and she sits and rubs that into her hands before bed. 

  • There's 2 things here - first is the naughty behaviour to push all your buttons - but it's also fascinatiing for them to see things bouncing down the stairs. 

    One needs you to work out a method to control - the second is a teaching/learning opportunity for a hungry AS mind - I'd be indulging the learning part with making paper planes, bouncing balls, making parachutes, doing egg-drop experiments - their mind sounds like it loves to gather information and their behaviour is giving them tons of pleasing data - it also gives you an opportunity to connect and teach better behaviour while they are fully engaged.

  • My son & his wife have recently split up, and my son has moved back home with us, my grandson has been used to staying with me on his own at weekends so it is his space, now my granddaughter is coming to stay on a Friday night too, he is struggling with this.

    Is the above situation adding to this behaviour as well... and outward display of releasing energy (whether pent up frustration, confusion etc) and to outwardly express that he is struggling with the change in routine - dad moving out etc??

    Some interesting suggestions on this MumsNet thread - https://www.mumsnet.com/Talk/special_needs/28471-throwing-things-down-the-stairs-how-to-stop

    including getting some Homebase Drainpipe so that things can be "rolled" down the stairs? You could race balls or matchbox cars down these? Maybe a target at the bottom of the stairs and some foam darts???

    When I was younger it was throwing balls up the stairs and then enjoying watching them bounce back down the stairs too me.

    Everyone loves a slinky!


  • Speaking from my own experience, as a child I would also like to throw objects down stairs, as I found the sensation of seeing and hearing the objects movement pleasurable. It is a normal behaviour for a child, but by age 11 they should have already grown out of it.

    If I were to make a guess it may be caused by a desire to control and manipulate to induce visual stimulation. If he is non-verbal that means he could be using this behaviour to gain "feedback" to make up for his deficit - by that I mean perform an action which in this case is 1) planning for a desired outcome 2) which then rewards the brain with dopamine creating a feedback loop (repetative behaviour).

    My suggestion:

    • Introduce the child to the concept of a 'Slinky' toy and teach them that the desired goal and objective of the game is to make the toy flip. They must not "throw" the toy down the stairs, if they do they need to start again. This teaches the child patience and that throwing is not a desired behaviour.
    • Encorporate cleaning and tidying the home as a game activity. Desired outcome of putting things away in their rightful place is rewarded (sweets etc). If the child does not complete the task, or does it unsuccessfully the observer (should be a mother or someone with a close bond) will look the child in the eye and calmly and reassuringly aid them in putting the objects away.

    Think in terms of how you can utilise his behaviour in a more meaningful productive activity. What other activities iinvolve throwing? Or moving of objects from one location to another? It seems like he just needs to find some games to play that replaces this behaviour.

    Note: Also keep in mind that the behaviour of throwing is sometimes a 'stim' when an Autistic is overwhelmed or has a disgust preference towards an object (something about the object makes them anxious).