I read a short but interesting and totally dead-on true article that summed up most of autism behaviors as the result of "getting stuck."
Oh yes. Man, are we stuck.
Stuck on squirrels. Stuck making the squirrel face. Stuck when we say "squirrel!" and can't stop. Stuck when something is funny once but we can't stop doing it 800 more times. For 8 years. Stuck in our own head and can't imagine anyone else's perspective. Stuck doing the same routines over and over because we did it that way once.
Stuck when we decided it's too boring to "just eat." And since I am battling (but still losing) the association between eating and screen time, we compromised on eating and drawing, instead of eating and watching.
Now, months later, Little Squirrel would prefer to skip ice cream if it means she has to sit there and "just eat" it. At a birthday party when the cake was passed out she came to me asking for paper to draw (oh hell no, I gave her the choice of "just eating" the cake or leaving). It's gotten so bad that the word "eat" isn't able to be spoken without its partner "draw." She will interrupt conversations when she overhears the word "eat" to give the correction "eat and draw!" In fact, "eat and draw" have merged to become one word on our Mad Libs, as I found out today when I made the mistake of offering the word "eat" for a verb, because I forgot about the problematic word and only suggested it because we actually were eating so it's the first thing I could think of!