R. has been bringing her plush Elmo everywhere, lately he is usually accompanied by The Count, but sometimes she brings only Elmo. It is somewhat of a security item, but she is playing with it, she treats them like dolls. Elmo gets drinks, food, his fur brushed,the occasional dress or hair bow and he gets to try on R.’s shoes. He dances, gets talked to, shown things and put places.
A little girl approached R at the playground, admiring Elmo and wanting to hold it. She reached for Elmo and R yelled No and pushed her hand away. I was so surprised that I just stood there for a minute and fought the urge to jump up and down yelling Woo hoo she said no to a peer. Then I realized that the little girl’s father was watching me so I made a lame attempt at suggesting R give the girl a turn with Elmo. Lucky for me the girl went on to other pursuits.
It occurred to me that I really did not know the proper way to handle a situation like that. I guess I’ve always thought that anything we brought to the playground was meant to be shared, but they are R.’s toys and Elmo is a security item, should she have to share her security item?
This came up again when we went to the zoo with another autism family who also had a child with security items. It was kind of nice to share our glee that our kids were fighting. We decided that the security items could only be touched by the non-owning child with permission, but the owner had to let the non-owner look at the items. We also decided between us to let them duke it out a bit and only intervene if real kicking or crying was involved. I only had to remove R once because she was kicking and starting to get really upset. She settled quickly and they seemed to come to terms with each other and the temptation.
I’m trying to talk to her more about what will happen when she brings Elmo places – kids are going to look at him, want to hold him. Maybe that will have an impact in time.