Is my grandchild's strange obsession a bad thing?

Since I can remember, my friend’s grandson has been obsessed with buses. He always had a toy bus with him and would play for hours. He was later diagnosed with autism, with one of the indicators being obsessions with items or things. Once he was of age, he applied to be a bus driver and is now in his late 20s, driving buses. He has been told off a few times by his manager because he just wants to drive buses non-stop, and as is the same with pilots, you have to have a break. It’s taken over his life.

So you can imagine a little of my apprehension and worry when my two-year-old granddaughter became absolutely obsessed with this frying pan. And it wasn’t exactly a light frying pan either, or a toy one. You would try and wrench it out of her hand and she would cry. She wanted to sit in in, put her food on it, and just drag it behind her every day. She hated dolls and fairies, but she loved her frying pan.

I wonder if there are other grandparents who have seen this bizarre fascination in their grandkids and haven’t known what to do, or if it means they’re autistic. I know, I know, let kids be kids. It can actually be funny to see my little grandie carrying ‘Fy-py’ around but I don’t want to be the fool if we find out far down the track.

I’ve had a look into these strange little obsessions children have, and I must say I had a little chuckle when I heard this story from the US:

Grayson Dobra is two years old and loves a local personal injury lawyer called Morris Bart. Whenever Morris’ ad comes on the TV, little Grayson becomes fixated and cannot look away – he simply loves this man.

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Grayson was thrilled with his themed birthday party.Photo: L’erin Dobra

So, for his second birthday, his mum L’erin threw him a Morris Bart themed party complete with cake, cardboard cut out and signed photo.


She also contacted the office of Morris Bart, hoping he might be able to drop in to the party.

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The firm’s marketing coordinator Kaley Wilkins-Fabre initially thought the request was a joke but sadly he couldn’t make it, though did send a cut out, autograph picture and t-shirt.

I’ve also done some research into what an obsession could mean, and it has sort of set my mind at ease, though there still is that connection. For any other grandparents wanting to know, a toddler’s repetitive odd habit is usually nothing more than that and they will go on to develop normally – only about one in 100 toddlers develop any form of autism, and it is four times more likely to occur in boys than girls.

But if the obsession with the strange object (or person) is impairing their social interaction and growth, this may be a sign that something else is at play and you should see a doctor.

What I’ve learnt is that it is just as important to not look for signs than it is to look and turning a blind eye could possibly delay developmental treatment.


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I’m interested to know: Does your grandchild have a strange obsession with anything? What is it and do you worry at all about it?