Does your loved one with various isms have comfort or special objects that they like to carry around? I have carried various items with me for as long as I can remember. When I was younger, I carried my blankets around the house. Now, I always carry sensory fidgets with me in my pockets and purse. I have specific bracelets that I wear each day. I also have small plastic figurines that I love and carry in my purse. I am okay without my blankets and figurines. I don’t need them all of the time. But I almost always wear my bracelets and carry my fidgets in my pocket.
Needing Special Objects
I carry my blankets around the house because I like the deep pressure input that I get from wrapping myself in the blanket, no matter what the temperature is like in the room or outside.
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Wearing my bracelets helps me get sensory input by allowing me to fidget with my hands and wrists without picking my fingers, which is something that I did more frequently before I had the bracelets.
The fidgets give me the same sensory input as the bracelets.
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The figurines are different for me. I have quite a few figurines. I can tell you where most of them came from, name of the store, who I was with when I got them, if I got them out-of-town, etc. Each figurine has a special story and is unique in its own special way. To me, they are not just figurines, they each have a short story of their own to tell.
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Encourage or Discourage Special Objects?
Before answering this question, I would ask yourself and the individual with the ism why they are carrying or collecting special objects.
Is it meeting a sensory need?
Helping them transition from one activity to the next?
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Helping them to maintain a relationship?
Is it related to their special interest?
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Do they find the object comforting?
Does the object remind them of an event or special time?
Provide Support of Special Objects
After you ask yourself these questions, then you will be able to better understand why the child is carrying or collecting the object(s). There is a reason, even if it is hidden and hard to find.
Be careful not to tell the child that their reason for carrying a special object is silly or babyish.
If an item such as a blanket, cannot be carried around the community due to the fact that it would make the child stand out too much and not be age appropriate, you can try to find another solution. Consider the following alternatives:
Carrying a sweatshirt that would also give the child deep pressure.
Keeping a blanket in the car and allowing your child to go there if needed.
Carrying a small piece of fabric in their pocket if they like the texture of the blanket.
If your child likes to carry a stuffed animal, you can find one that is small enough to fit in a purse, backpack, or pocket. A key chain stuffed animal or even one the size of a beanie baby could be perfect. This size could also be held discretely on your child’s lap while seated at a desk or table.
Please consider these factors next time you notice your child, student, or client is carrying a comfort or special object with them. Please don’t discourage them from doing so. My figurines bring me such joy and getting a new one makes me so excited. While it may seem unusual, they mean a lot to me. What special objects does your child, student or client carry and why?