Autism

Autism And The Washing Machine

When we were going through Ethan’s autism diagnosis we were asked if he showed an interest in the washing machine. I thought this was a weird question and didn’t understand it at the time. It turns out that an autistic trait can be an intense interest in washing machines.

autism washing machine

Ethan’s interest at that time was just watching the drum spin as it run a cycle. It then moved onto opening and closing the door and manually spinning the drum. He would get obsessive about it and it was something I tried to stop. I encouraged this relationship by letting Ethan help me turn on the washing machine when it was required.

This was something that worked well until recently. We had to buy a new washing machine at the end of last year which displays a timer countdown of the cycle. I’m not sure if this was when Ethan’s relationship with the washing machine changed. Ethan used to enjoy watching the machine now running a cycle causes him distress which turns into a full-blown meltdown.

The meltdown will begin when the washing machine countdown reaches roughly thirty minutes to go. Ethan will then watch the countdown telling us how many minutes are left. The closer it gets to zero the more upset Ethan becomes. It’s horrible to see Ethan so distressed and upset about something.

These meltdowns have meant that we have had to change our whole washing routine. We can no longer wash our clothes when Ethan is around. This was easy when he was at school, not so easy in the school holidays. It also means we have to wash his swimming things overnight so they aren’t hanging around for days. If we are really organised we can start a wash before we leave the house, knowing that it would have ended before we come home. It sounds quite easy but when you are used to putting a wash on anytime it has taken some getting used to.

I really have no idea why something that Ethan used to love now causes him such great distress. It’s heartbreaking and I really hope Ethan can overcome the issue he now has with our washing machine.

4 Comments

  • amanda walsh

    I cannot use the washing machine when Skye is home, I have to do it when she is in school! Holidays are tough, she has to go to my Mums so I can do laundry! Her issue is just the noise, she cant tolerate it and we have a really quiet machine!

  • polly

    Try putting some tape over the digital clock.
    My grandson loves the washer and dryer but became very obsessed wtih how much time left to go, suspect they don’t want it to end .
    I use a salad spinner that he can spin manually as a distraction , works well,
    Best of luck.

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