I had a phonecall from the school one day when my son was in Kindergarten. The call was to say that, while they understood that my son loved stones, he was removing too many from the playground.
There were days when my son would come home looking like the weight of the world was on him; literally. Every pocket would be filled with stones; pants pockets and jacket pockets would be drooping-full. If he had worn boots that day, they'd have stones in them. There were days when my son came shuffling home with his feet dragging the sides of his boots along the ground with the bottom of the boots facing out sideways because he'd filled the boots with stones. So we continued to work on having him wear shoes to and at school, which was no easy feat! Boots were the footwear of preference!
I gave my son a jar and told him he could fill the entire jar with stones, and he could fill the jar as often as he liked, but he could only have one jarful of stones at a time. For some reason, he followed that guideline until one day he said it was too hard to always fill up the jar with stones. The jar and the seeming need to gather stones dwindled away. At the time, I'd also started taking my son to buy special stones to collect. He was very taken with them in the store, spent much time looking at them and deciding which to choose, would hold the stone or the stone in its box all the way home; then would either leave the stone in the car or on the counter or lose it in short order and not seem at all concerned. Receiving special stones as gifts met with a similar response; seemingly quite please with receiving it, much time looking at the stone, holding it for awhile, then usually leaving it where he'd opened the gift and not seeming to be concerned with its whereabouts. (As an aside, this is still very common when my son receives gifts; Christmas, Easter, birthday, etc.) My son is now in his teens, and when we go into the bookshop where we used to buy his stones or when he sees similar stones, his usual comment is along the lines of, "I remember when I used to collect stones like that."
This blog was initially set up as a means of communicating with my son's team. Since then, I've heard from other parents with similar stories. If you are living with challenges or journeying alongside someone who is, you are not alone. There are many of us. I'm a single adoptive Mom (http://richesofsimplicity.blogspot.com/) of a young man who lives with many abilities and many diagnoses. We have journeyed together through many challenges and a few adventures over the years as my son has tried to find space in this world that makes him feel more comfortable, an attempt made especially difficult when living with Attachment Disorder, PDD-NOS (Autism), Developmental Coordination Disorder, ADHD, prenatal substance exposure, etc. Some of the strongest elements used in this journey have been music, visual arts, therapeutic parenting, team-connection, boundary-setting, boundary-setting, boundary-setting, communication skills, community-building, continual lifeskills training, and elements of Theraplay. (Click here for some written resources.) On this journey, there is laughter and tears and growth and hope. The greatest of these is hope.