Autism vs OCD about a clean house

Friday, October 2nd, 2015

There is an overlap between the two, what do they have in common; obsessions, anxiety, rituals, the need to perform a task.

But with OCD, they do not like their routines and their obsessions, it causes them distress.

People with autism love their routines, it keeps them relaxed, it helps them function better

But I read people with OCD will perform their routines and tasks to keep themselves calm and to ease their anxiety. But don’t autistic people get anxiety when they can’t perform a  task and ritual because of their routine? Don’t they get upset with a change in their routine and have a meltdown? Same thing happens to people with OCD when they also can’t do it. According to my mother, people with OCD can also get violent if you try to keep them from doing their routine. For autistic people, it’s about predictability, for OCD people, it’s about control. They need to be in control because it keeps them calm and relaxed.

I read that only 30% of people with OCD like things clean and neat and are obsessed about a clean house. That is a common stereotype about OCD so you often hear “I am so OCD about my clean home.”

In the movie Snow Cake Linda liked having a clean house and would freak out over dirt and anything out of place. She was a perfectionist about her home, she was literally OCD about her clean home and she also needed everyone to take their shoes off when they come inside, I could relate so much to this because I was exactly the same way when I was a kid, shoes always had to be off, I would freak out over dirt and messes and freak out over dog pee like she did in the movie. But she had autism, not OCD. I have been diagnosed with both in 6th grade. It was like they made a movie about me except it was about a middle aged woman who was autistic, not Asperger’s. She also couldn’t touch the trash bags so her daughter always did it and now that she was deceased, she needed Alex to stay and do it for her.  Could she have been a dirtophobic or a germophobic or did she simply have sensory issues with plastic trash bags. Her reason for a clean home could be due to visual processing issues, when too many things are out of place, they can get overwhelmed because of too much information their brain is getting, it cannot filter it, also if things are in the way because they are laying out, it’s hard for them to move their bodies and navigate around the stuff so it’s like a huge obstacle course for them. That could have been the case with Linda than OCD but I kept thinking the whole time she also had it. The thing about it is she liked her clean house and liked her obsession with keeping it clean and having it look like a palace my mom would call it. “I will not make our house look like a palace,” she would tell me.

I was also obsessed about a clean house. it kept me calm and relaxed, I did not like clutter, it felt too chaotic and drove me crazy and I hated messes. My own environment needed to be clean and neat. As far as back to age two, I needed to take a certain step in each room, have my food served in a certain way, one of my cousins even told me that when I was about three, she and her parents and her little sister were visiting us and I had this one bow collection thing and I had to have it a certain way and would get upset if anyone messed it up. That was typical me. Even my mom told me when I was 16 that I had been saying since I was five years old that I always pick up when I am done with it. Yes I always put my toys away when done playing with it and it would always baffle me how kids could just scatter their toys all over and lose pieces to it. I liked these things and they didn’t stress me out unless someone fucked it up. Moving furniture in someone’s doll house would be an annoyance to most children, for me it was a nightmare and more than an annoyance it would really upset me if i saw someone moved even one piece in my dollhouse. I just had to fix it to move on. I didn’t have any meltdowns I would just fix it so I could get over it. I don’t think anyone realized how upsetting this all was for me. My mom learned to keep my brothers out of my room and from touching my stuff or she would be getting screamed at by me for hours and hours because coming home from school and finding someone was in my room because a few things were out of place was like coming home to your house being broken into and stuff being taken. Sure I have always liked to clean and didn’t like my stuff touched but it came to a point where it turned into OCD because I started to impose my routines on other people in my household, they now had to follow my standards of a clean house or else there would be hell. It would be hell for me if there were crumbs on the counter, stuff in the wrong spot and I couldn’t relax and do anything else unless the house was clean. I would want to do other things but couldn’t because of the damn mess so yeah I would be mad about it because it kept me from my life. I did read that autism can cause someone to have OCD and that OCD can be caused neurologically. So it is very possible that my need for a clean home was both Asperger’s and OCD because I liked it and it kept me relaxed and I loved it and cleaning relaxed me but the OCD part was the distress if no one else followed it. In 2001 my parents decided they weren’t going to live that way because they felt they were walking on eggshells all because it was to avoid my anxiety and the chaos but my brothers were not happy, it was driving them crazy so my parents decided I will have anxiety and they quit giving a damn. As a consequence to that, I made their lives hell, not intentionally. The more they did it, the worse my anxiety got and the more they got mad at me about it, the more I acted out and then my dad brought home a puppy that would pee in the house and oh boy that was the straw that broke the camel’s back so I had tremendous anxiety and I went literally crazy to a point I was heading for psychopathy and I got abusive and violent because I thought it would make my life easier because Frankie always got his way with his abuse so I tried his method but it backfired. But thank goodness mother nature kill the dog before I could because I kept on thinking of drowning that thing in our pond and I felt I was getting closer and closer to that compulsion. I hated the anxiety, the daily meltdowns all because of that damn dog. Also the fact no one would keep him outside or crated because they felt it was cruel but yet it would have lessened my anxiety and my dad should not have gotten that dog in the first place because I was already having more anxiety, we had just moved into our new house so having a puppy was not the right time. No one was willing to watch him to house train him and he thought he was supposed to be indoors because he came from a pet shop and he was five months when my dad bought him. It’s easier to train a puppy when they are young and it gets harder when they are older and to house train a dog, you need to keep them crated or be very active with them. Having them in the same room as you while doing your thing is not being active with them. But no one was willing do do that and i can say I was also at fault because I could have given up my computer and video games and train that damn animal myself and that would have lessened my anxiety because I still would have been in control.  Then when that puppy died, my anxiety did lessen because there was no more pee in the house and I didn’t have to freak out anymore and live in constant fear.

Then when I became an adult and finished high school, I started to get less obsessed about a clean house, who knows what happened. Maybe because I was an adult so I had more control of my life so I didn’t need to control my environment and the fact my parents decided to pay me for my cleaning obsession so all of a sudden dirt in the house meant more money because shoes on the floor, I get to earn more money by cleaning it again. I was still in control and my family got to do what they wanted and everyone was happy.

But one thing I will never understand is how hard is it to just wipe up the crumbs when you are done making something or how hard is it to just put your book away when you are done reading it? My mom calls this hard and I think “oh FFS.” My Aunt Mary also liked having a clean house, it was not hard for me to hang my towel up or even put a plate in the sink or dishwasher or even wiping the crumbs off the counter, I kept my own mess in my own room when I lived with them. Recently I watched the Dr. Phil show and in one of the episodes was a 20 year old girl and a mother and according to the daughter, her mom was a neat freak and kept everything spotless. The house looked like the parade of homes. But the daughter refused to pick up after herself and everything and I was thinking the whole time how hard is it do pick up after yourself, come on. Then of course my mom was able to explain to me why it’s hard and used a few examples like you are playing with trains and then you both get up to leave the room to get something else but your OCD mother would want it picked up first before you go get that thing or you may be reading a book and then you set it down to go to the bathroom and you come back, the book is back on the shelf and you have lost your place in the book because you didn’t take it with you. My mom also told me she will have her cup of coffee and then someone comes to the door, she sets her coffee down and comes back and sees it’s gone. I asked her if I did those things and she said I did. She told me she would make herself a hot cup of coffee and then set it down to go to the bathroom or to go to the door and come back and see I have poured it out and put the cup in the dishwasher because I would have just taken the cup with me but because she didn’t, it was abandoned and left in the wrong spot. I of course laughed because I can laugh at my own glitches I used to do and how it must have been so hard for my family and a inconvenience. So yes I can see why this would be hard to keep things picked up so you better not bother playing with anything because what is the point if you will have to put it away when you leave it or when you can’t even take a break and come back to it later and you better just bring your book with you or your hot cup of coffee or your plate of food. Just imagine going to someone’s door and the person answering is holding a plate of food in her hand and she sets it down next to her as she writes and then carries it again and you are left wondering why couldn’t she just leave her food in the kitchen or on the table so you tell her that and she goes “if I do that, my OCD daughter will just dump it in the trash thinking it’s abandoned.” I don’t know if I was ever this extreme except about the hot coffee thing.

So some people were right that I do expect people to follow my standards and expect people to be like me.


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