Autism and Attachment to Stuff

Google searchGoogle “Autism and Clothing” and what comes up are links upon links to articles, studies, and blog posts about sensory issues with clothing, and how clothing can be a source of anxiety and struggle for those on the spectrum.

But there was only one link about being emotionally attached to articles of clothing.  And it was a forum post from the experts – adults with autism.  From my quick perusal of the “research”, it doesn’t seem that anyone has studied this, but based on what I read on this wrongplanet forum post, there seems to be a correlation between a spectrum diagnosis and the sense that objects have “feelings”.  Unused, or un-purchased toys may feel “lonely” or “discarded” and therefore need to be saved.  Lego towers and models mustn’t be taken apart because that would be “like an execution”.  Clothing that has become too small must not be thrown out or donated, it must be kept forever, because it would be too sad, too unbearable to part with it.

Ring any bells?

Sometimes I fall into the trap, believing my child is rational because he usually has such a logical and straightforward outlook.  This attachment to things is miles from rational, yet it seems to be so prevalent in those with ASD…

Why has no one studied this?  Why has no one examined this and come up with strategies to deal with these anxieties about the feelings of objects?  Several of these adults with autism on the forum have even contemplated purchasing extra storage space so they could keep all of these “saved” items!  Yikes!

Clothing is one of our meltdown triggers, and I finally came to the realization that The Boy had this irrational attachment when we had a big meltdown the other morning.  He reacted to some “missing” (read: donated) size 8 pants (he wears 14-16 now) extremely emotionally, almost as if a pet had died.  That’s when I began my Google search.

Today, I floated an idea by him.  In the car, I mentioned to him that we could take pictures of the clothes that are too small before we donate them.  Sorta like my T-shirt project.  That way, he could “keep them” as long as he wished, and could look back on those clothes and the attached memories as many times as he liked, and the clothes themselves could go on to other families and be used by smaller kids.  He kinda liked the idea.  Which means it just might work…

I’ll keep you posted.