What Are Examples Of How Someone With Autism Might Display A Fascination With Irrelevant Details Of An Item?

Dr. Stephen Kahler answers the question: 'Fascination With Irrelevant Details?'

Nov. 7, 2008 -- Question: What are some examples of how somone with autism might display a fascination with irrelevant details of an item?

Answer: Children with autism appear to be fascinated by details that most of us would overlook. They can spend hours watching a small object, turning it over in their hands, examining it. They can listen to a recording over and over. They often like to check the textures or the smells of objects or people that they are near. Some of the children will lick objects. Some of the children will put inappropriate things in their mouths.

But in terms of special interests, I know many children with autism with very specific interests.

One little boy, for example, was very interested in the floor plans of Rite Aid drug stores, and whenever he came to a new one his mother would have to let him out of the car, he would go inside for five or ten minutes, walk around and then come home and draw a perfectly realized layout of the floor plan of that particular drug store. He was 10 years old.

Another little boy I know was very fascinated by culverts under driveways. That was his area of expertise and he inspected every single one of them. So there are a variety of areas of interests.

Some children become very experienced at very highly technical fields such as computers. Even 3- or 4-year-old children I know can operate computers quite successfully, even when they can't read.