washing machine

Autism And The Washing Machine

When we were going through the process of Ethan’s autism diagnosis they did question if he shows 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 And The 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. His obsessions can become intense so we had to monitor them. To keep Ethan’s relationship with the washing machine positive I would let him help me turn it on when it was our washing day.

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 watches the countdown letting us know how many minutes there is until the cycle ends. The closer it gets to zero the more upset Ethan becomes. It’s horrible to see Ethan so distressed and upset about something.

washing machine

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 at 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.

9 thoughts on “Autism And The Washing Machine”

  1. 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!

  2. 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.

      1. Michelle wilkins

        My son has the same meltdowns and distress and upset he thinks the washing machine is going to over flow, runs back and forth to tell me it going to finish soon that is when I have to drain and spin because it’s too much for him, this is so upsetting to see him like this his dad won’t help at all.

        1. Jane - Our Little Escapades

          I’m so sorry to hear your son gets distressed about the washing machine. We had to start running in when Ethan was asleep. Thanksfully his upset has now passed but he does like to pause the machine at times. I hope things get better for you all soon x

  3. I got here through Googling washing machine obsessions!

    My 3 year old is going through his assessment now but it’s becoming more obvious that he has ASD. His whole world revolves (excuse the pun) around washing machines. I tried to discourage it at the beginning but now we just roll with it. We take him to Curry’s as a special treat!

    He is very repetitive in his actions. Open the drawer, shut, open the drum, manually spin, shut….on to the next one and repeat. He is never as happy as when with washing machines. He is verbal and knows every single brand by sight. Maybe he will grow up to be a washing machine engineer? I love him just the way he is.

    Thank you for the blog. I will follow with interest.

    1. My 5year old has asd and just recently started watching the washer machinr on t.v apps.What i carnt understand he helps with a real life washing and yet watches it on t.v apps as well.Is there anything i can to stop it let me know out there.

  4. Hi, I know a 5 year boy, close relative of mine who has the same obsession for washing machine. Unfortunately he is autistic too. Can I know if you could find a solution to get away with this obsession?

    Kind regards

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