Compulsive Pestering and My Autistic Child


This spring my son hinked my boozle.

After an episode of Curious George, he sauntered up to me and gave me a probing glance. In an instant, his hands leaped up to my bosom. “Hink! Hink!” he exclaimed as he honked my motherly bits.

I gasped in surprise. “It is not okay to hink mama.”

I lectured him on boundaries, explaining that a woman’s bosom is for feeding babies.

Our conversation devolved into an anxious personal space inquisition. My son wanted diagrams detailing a child’s age and allowable “hinking.” Our afternoon of graph making closed with chalk driveway charts. Local dog walkers lingered during their peregrinations for days.

Our afternoon of social instruction left me feeling victorious.  Appropriateness is a difficult lesson for autistic individuals, especially young autistic individuals.

A few weeks later, I chatted with Liev’s case manager, Crystalyn. She asked me, “What is a boozle?”

Perplexed, I questioned her until it became clear that “boozle” was his mispronunciation of “bosom.”

Liev had been annoying teachers with his “hinks.”  I explained the situation and told her my strategy was to ignore him and redirect him to shoulder squeezing.

Sporadic outbreaks of boozle hinking peppered the remainder of the school year.  Liev hinked most when he felt ill. I could gauge a fever by hinks per hour.

Summer vacation detonated the atom bomb of boozle hinks. My son became a tiny, diabolical Benny Hill. His twitchy, pinchy fingers bedeviled me so much I expected to hear Yackety Sax on a loop in the background.


The fact that my usual tricks failed shocked me. I asked for advice and tried new methods. Every intervention failed or only worked for a single day. I did not understand what I was missing.

Eventually, my husband and I concluded that Liev was trapped in a “hinking loop.”  Anxious about summer changes, Liev became obsessed with hinking.  Squeezing or poking me relieved an internal pressure.  Even though he had firm and consistent consequences, with enough anxiety he’d hink until his fingers dropped off.

I needed to be patient, ignore, and re-direct.  I gritted my teeth, nevertheless.

Weeks flitted by and hinking diminished as our summer schedule became routine.

Then one day, my husband took Liev out to pick flowers. Egor helped Liev fill a plastic shoebox with daisies. With abundant joy, Liev presented them to me. “Oh!” I gasped. “What lovely flowers! You are the sweetest little boy on the planet!” I extended my arms for a hug. Liev took three ecstatic hops toward me and poked my bosom. “Hink! Hink!” he said sweetly and hugged me.

My husband and I laughed aloud. A loving glow shined in Liev’s eyes. His hinks were indeed neurological hiccups, pint-size impulsive bursts of energy generated by a brain completely thrilled and overloaded by giving his Mama flowers.

Digital elements by Sherrie Drumond. Benny Hill is from “The Ultimate Benny Hill Album.”

17 thoughts on “Compulsive Pestering and My Autistic Child

  1. Hink, hink, hooray!

    Awesome. Well, not awesome that he is hinking but, well, the whole story, the patience, the understanding, golly geepers (you have me in an Archies and Dennis the Menace mood now) just imagine if we ALL were this patient and understanding of each other. If we ALL tried to understand the cause and not get so hung up on the action more!

    Loved the post, the images and the most importantly the message. Together you have created a fabulous blog experience! I am go glad I saw this. Thanks. 🙂

    1. Charlotte,

      Thank you so much for the encouragement! I appreciate your visits and support. After reading such a cheery message, I flap around for a bit. I am truly, deeply happy to be appreciated!


  2. Me again…

    “A loving glow shined in Tyoma’s eyes. His hinks were indeed neurological hiccups, pint-size impulsive bursts of energy generated by a brain completely thrilled and overloaded by giving his Mama flowers.”

    I loved this line and it made me think of a favorite Blazing Saddles line,

    “My mind is aglow with whirling, transient nodes of thought careening through a cosmic vapor of invention.”

    Just had to share because both make me smile. 🙂


  3. O, you made me giggle this morning. We have these anxiety behaviors too, although not this specific one. Things that start out and a natural response to a particular incident sort of turn into a compulsive anxiety loop of repeating that behavior and I think he loses track of why he is still doing it. good for you for being so patient.

    1. Yay! I appreciate the information. I think anxiety loops affect many spectrumites. Because I deal with them myself, sometimes it gives me a wee bit more patience. Thanks for dropping by!


  4. Oh, my gosh! I was laughing so hard! Hink! Hink! I just did it to myself out of empathy hinking. I kid!

    What a wonderful ending even though it had hinkage. Lol! You wrote this out so well, as much as I felt for you I could not help but see T in an endearing way…

    Now this could explain somethings with Daniel. I have not connected his “mommy boozle” obsession with change or looping. I thought maybe it was only him, or some kind of boy thing. He does have a similar loop. I have had to teach about personal boundaries because he indeed goes after other boozles as well. After thinking about it, he does this when he is meeting new women, or he gets into a giddy anxiety mode. (happy excited about something) It has not gotten as extreme as it has for Tyoma and your boozles, but a fair share of hinking. (Can you tell I really like both of those words?)

    Thank you for sharing, it opened my eyes to pay more attention to Daniel when he is doing this. Much appreciated and an enjoyable read!

    1. I am mortified to get back to you so late after such a sweet and lovely comment. I fear I succumb to being overwhelmed easily.

      Anyway, you make me laugh! “Empathy Hinking!” That’s cute!

      Thank you so much for the comment and positive vibes. We both look at T with endearing eyes. I know he is doing the best he can, but sometimes, I do feel frustrated. The best way to deal with frustration is to step back and look for humour. Being able to laugh at a difficult moment is a kiss from an angel!

      It’s interesting that Daniel has a siilar loop. I also wondered if it was a boy thing, but I noticed other boys didn’t hink their mama’s at the store so it must be an ASD/OCD thing. T does his hinks also when he is excited/giddy/anxious.

      I am glad you like the words boozle and hink. We are currently replacing the words to popular songs with boozles and hinks. As if the neighbors don’t think we are odd enough…

      Cheers to you and as always, thank you for stopping by and leaving such sweet messages!


    1. Ha!

      I had to write about this. Hinking has been a major thing this summer. I can’t wait to see what he will replace it with (I think…). Thank you for stopping by!


  5. Cute post! I used to have lots of nose tweaking.. years of it.. easier to manage in public, I guess. I suspect T will grow out of it in time. It may very well be replaced by another repeat self soothing behaviour, most of which are socially unacceptable so try to nip them in the bud, as he gets to grade school.

    1. Thank you so much for visiting with me and leaving a comment. I apologize for the late response, it’s been a busy week!

      We just picked up the nose tweaking two weeks ago! You are right, one behavior trades off for another. I hope that behvior management works, but I strongly suspect a neurological basis. Nevetheless, he seems to do very well in school these days so that is a relief!

      Thank you for dropping by and taking a moment to comment!


  6. Oh Wow! I have scouring the internet trying to find help for my son who squeezes me anywhere constantly!!! It drives me INSANE and am soooo frustrated by his inability to understand personal boundries and inability to control his emotional internal pressure and am desperate for help to figure out what i can do to stop this!!
    After reading your blog, i have been given a good kick up the pants and realise i need to chill and be more patient with him.
    Thanks so much – wish me luck

    1. Please forgive my very late response. It’s been a madhouse and I got a bit behind/lost.

      I understand exactly how you feel. I looked on the internet as well and their was precious little information. What I have discovered since I published this is that my son has a tic disorder. He is complelled to hink! It is indeed neurological and for your own sanity, it is just fine to ignore and not worry about. I have found that the more attention we paid to the hinking, the worse it got.

      I truly appreciate you sharing with me. I sometimes feel quite alone in dealing with odd behavior. You comment is very validating. I hope you can tell me how your situation is progressing in the future.

      Best wishes,

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