My son Rocky calls his autism and OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) "the lethal combination". I'm beginning to understand why.
A year ago, he stopped watching videos (his passion) on our nicest TV, one of those giant LED flat-screen things with all the bells and whistles. He had tried to perfect the image by messing with the brightness, hue, and other settings. When he was unable to achieve perfection, he decided that he could never watch that set again.
This week, he was fidgeting with the remote control for the TV in my room, and a tiny plastic nub that latches the cover onto the battery compartment broke off. Though I was able to tape the cover on, I was unable to find the tiny detached nub. Now he says he cannot ever watch my TV again because he feels so guilty every time he touches the "deformed" remote. "It won't ever be complete again," he explained, "and I'm a completist."
His rules for living are making it harder and harder for him to function. He won't attend movies at any theater that doesn't have digital projection. He won't eat at his former favorite (and only tolerable) restaurant because one time he found a single pea-sized piece of lettuce with a dab of mayo on his otherwise plain sandwich. Most clothes are off-limits because he once read a list of all the companies that at any time in history were alleged to have used child labor.
He's working with a new therapist, whose sole goal is to give Rocky the ability to deal with the normal stress of daily life without relying on these increasingly restrictive rules and rituals. As Rocky would say, "Good luck with that."
I hope the therapist succeeds. I'm running out of TVs.