Of Comfort Objects and Security Blankets

4 Jul

It was Linus Van Pelt of the comic strip Peanuts who coined the term “security blanket,” referring to the blue blanket he was emotionally attached to. When it comes to comfort and security, we all crave these good feelings and this is normal for many of us, even for those with autism. My son Alex loves the green comforter he inherited from his Dad (who got it as a present from my Mom) and would not sleep without it. My choice of a comfort object is a stuffed doll, a Hello Kitty Build-A-Bear doll, to be more precise. But Alphonse, well, let’s just say he has more nontraditional tastes.

This ís his “teddy bear.”

Alphonse took this orange plastic bowl to bed last night and refused to let it go. I finally pried it off his fingers at dawn, but he quickly looked for it when he woke up. He even giggled when he saw it again this morning.

Then again, I really shouldn’t be surprised. Alphonse has always had a love affair with the weirdest things, using them as his personal comfort objects, often until sleep, as seen here below:

This was his favorite comfort object for a long time- a Fisher Price helicopter with moving rotor blades- and he would spin the blades for many hours until he would fall asleep.

or here:

This slinky was a no-brainer. He liked swishing it around.

At least they were toys! As he grew older, his tastes for comfort objects turned to more nontraditional things. These were things he liked holding on to but did not really fit into the concept of a toy. Also, with age, the desire for comfort derived from these objects became more persistent. Nowhere is this best seen than when he needed them to stay still for family pictures like this:

A broken plastic cup from a fastfood chain and a scrap from a furry toy brought out the smiles from him.

and even this:

Alphonse held a piece of a broken microwable plastic bowl in his left hand. He was a little sullen and distracted here but the plastic helped him sit still for a few seconds at least.

Looking at the pictures above, I am reminded of the long months when Alphonse wanted nothing but broken pieces of plastic plates and bowls. I spent hours each day filing down the sharp edges off broken melamine shards. When he lost even just one piece, he would panic and cry so we ended up using a hammer to destroy perfectly good plates and bowls from the kitchen cabinet. Worse, imagine sleeping with those plastic pieces beside you- they do not make for comfortable sleep at all! Ahhh, those were the days. I do not miss them at all, haha.

So, when I see him sleeping peacefully with his orange plastic bowl, I am tempted to run out and buy him as many colored plastic bowls as he wants. After all , those smiles are precious and I would do whatever it takes to keep him happy always.

But who knew plastic bowls can be so comforting?


6 Responses to “Of Comfort Objects and Security Blankets”

  1. Love Many Trust Few July 4, 2012 at 9:07 pm #

    Hmmm… bits of plastic? Haven’t heard of that one. I also didn’t know that it was Linus who gave us the term security blanket. My 5yo boy loves his ribbon. He holds onto it day and night and if he loses it in his sleep, it’s the first thing he/I must do – find his ribbon! It’s a big topic of conversation with his younger brother – who is 2. Little brother calls the ribbon his ‘lovey’ which he got from a dvd called Baby Songs which has a song called ‘Lovey and Me’. Very cute photo by the way!

    • Kittymama July 6, 2012 at 9:48 am #

      We went through a ribbons and strings phase too! He always had to have one in his hand and he would swish and fling and whip it and chew on it- we’ll, do just about everything with it- that I always had a bunch of ribbons in my purse for when he drops or loses one. Good thing he didn’t mind too much if we replaced them! The broken plastic phase was hard. And as much as we didn’t want to enable this particular habit, if we didn’t, the alternative was much worse. I am just thankful he outgrew that already. 🙂

      • Love Many Trust Few July 6, 2012 at 7:48 pm #

        We’ve been through a bunch of obsessions, but the string/ribbon one has held on the longest. When I look back at his baby photos I can see him already fixating on things with strings – he used to drag a toy drum around before he could walk because the drumstick was attached by a string. He’s not so keen on changing ribbons though. I figure if it wasn’t this it would be something else he’s be obsessing over, so a ribbon isn’t too bad considering.

      • Kittymama July 26, 2012 at 8:29 pm #

        Ours is a bottle of bubble solution- that has been the most consistent throughout the years, starting when he was nine. The bits of plastic comes and goes. Last night, he got the cap off my thermal mug and went to bed with it. As long as he doesn’t mind if I borrow it, I don’t mind sharing either. 🙂

  2. leira pagaspas July 17, 2012 at 1:59 pm #

    OMG!!! Joshwa loves to sleep with a magazine. It’s not because he loves to read it but because he would doodle on the blank spaces within the magazine pages. I’d give him all the magazine that he wants.. I am a willing enabler

    • Kittymama July 26, 2012 at 8:26 pm #

      And magazines are easy to acquire and replace too! I love Josh’s choice of a comfort object. 🙂

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