Stimming?OCD?

Hi, our 12 year old son has just been diagnosed as having Aspergers. For some years now he has performed ritual behaviours and had intrusive thoughts which were first diagnosed as OCD. These became more and more distressing for him as every so often he said the thoughts and feelings became so intense they would completely overwhelm him leading to a huge meltdown. At these times he would literally writhe on the floor or sofa sometimes even saying he wished he would die to release him from the mental pain. We had fantastic support from the local CAMHS who put him on sertraline ( it seems to have calmed him down  a little) but who also referred him for ASD assessment - the diagnosis came through last week.

From what I understand OCD behaviours can be treated with CBT - ie they can be combatted - whereas stimming is really important for people with Aspergers - ie they shouldn’t be suppressed. At this stage we’re not sure which are OCD if at all and which are stimming. His behaviours involve:

  • covering his eyes and sitting with some rocking - he says he’s concentrating on an image
  • imaginary writing in the air
  • pacing
  • repeating words/phrases - “ chicken nuggets” is a favourite! But there are plenty of other random things he comes out with.
  • lying on the ground with his eyes closed and concentrating
  • staring into space - that’s what it looks like but then he snaps out of it and goes back to normality

If we talk to him when he’s doing these he gets very upset and has to start all over again. These behaviours start from first thing in the morning and happen every few minutes of the day. We don’t know what happens exactly at school when he is in class but we think he tries to do them in his head so as not to draw attention to himself but occasionally he can’t contain them and this is when he can become overwhelmed and have to leave class..

I’d be grateful for any advice from anyone who knows anything about this behaviour , has experienced it or who does it. Are there ways to control it? Will it change as he gets older? Is this confusion between OCD behaviour and stimming common? He’s starting to go through puberty - to throw something else into the mix!

Sorry about the long post - there’s a lot to say and this is the first time I’ve been able to ask questions to a group who might have some answers!

Thanks very much.

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