Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Autism Understanding & Acceptance 2014 Day 2: Bracelets

The first question posed to me by private message was about his bracelets.  I've included a picture of him happily flipping away.  T loves silicone bracelets (think "Livestrong"), and has one with him almost wherever he goes.  In fact, he's flipping a bracelet right now as I type.  He's always liked having a fidget toy, but the bracelets became a fascination two and a half years ago.  Before then it was miniature plastic Slinkys.  In a pinch, anything that is stretchy will do.  A rubber band has sufficed when a bracelet is unavailable.   Have no fear: I have multiple extras in my purse, in the car, in luggage when we travel, etc.!

What's interesting to me is that he is quite particular about making sure that a bracelet will be waiting for him when he's done with an activity during which he is not allowed access.  This morning he carefully placed a bracelet in the very middle of the back seat of the car, knowing that it would be there for him when I picked him up this afternoon after school.  It was the first thing he reached for when he got in the car hours later!

What does this do for him?  I can't give you a definitive answer, but I will make an educated guess.   It keeps his internal busy-ness occupied.  

When self-advocates (those with autism who can communicate in some manner, tell us what they want/need,  and "translate" for us NTs - NeuroTypicals) discuss repetitive behaviors, many times they will say that it calms them when overwhelmed.   I can't say that it calms him.  In fact, he can get quite taken away with flipping the bracelet and vocalizing.  But I do believe that in circumstances that can be overstimulating (shopping malls/groceries, restaurants, crowds, etc), the bracelet gives him something to distract him from the overwhelming buzz that is our noisy, crowded world.  

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