My autistic son, Seth, has always had a fascination with holding or carrying around something round in his hand - ever since he was a baby. It's something different each time - apparently whatever suits his fancy at the time. It may be the wheel off of a toy car, a smooth rock, a piece of candy still in the wrapper, etc.
Last week we ate at Logan's Roadhouse, which has in-the-shell peanuts around the restaurant that you crack, eat, and throw the shells on the floor. The first time we all went to Logan's, throwing the shells onto the floor completely stressed Seth out. This time around, he was loving cracking the peanuts open, though he wouldn't in a million years actually eat one.
Also this time, he attached himself to a small, round peanut in the shell and continued to carry it around for days afterward. Days.
When he would not clean the toys up in his room the day after he acquired this nut, I threatened to get rid of all of the toys he wouldn't pick up - to which he happily responded, "That's okay. All I need is this peanut." And by golly if he wasn't right. I followed through on my threat and removed every toy from his room, leaving only his books - and he hasn't complained one bit about it. In fact, he has proudly kept his room unbelievably clean since.
Oh boy, we're in trouble with this peanut. This peanut surely cannot last forever.
You may be thinking that we could merely find another similar peanut when the time comes. It's a peanut. Know this - a slightly obsessive autistic child knows his own peanut from a strange peanut.
A few days later, we were at the bank and I was talking to the teller when Seth had this horrified look on his face and opened his hand to show me that his peanut's shell had finally crumbled leaving a little pile in his hand. I'm very accustomed to dealing with very public autistic meltdowns, so I braced myself and very quickly said to the teller, "He's autistic and he's been attached to that peanut for four days. This may get ugly."
I'll tell you what - she leapt into action quicker than a jack rabbit and said, "Do you like suckers? What's your favorite color?" and proceeded to distract him in a way that made this special-needs mom gush openly. THAT does not happen often at all.
Every so often people really surprise you in a positive way. I know that God places these people in our path, and I'm so grateful for it. This incident also shows me that autism and its effects are becoming more known to the general public making life a little easier for those of us who live with it daily.
So the peanut is history, his room is still staying clean, he hasn't asked for the toys back, and he's moved on to obsess on several new things in the days since.
Life moves on!