Or that used to be my son. Now the chips, cheeses, bread and price tags can relax; they are safe from his busy little hands.
When I first described the octopus phenomenon to our occupational therapist, she nodded wisely and said, “give him something to hold.” Something with weight, but not too heavy, and not so light he won’t notice it, either. Boxes are good, she hinted.
That sounded ridiculously – and suspiciously – easy to me. I wasn’t having it. After assuring her that my son was always touching things, that he really couldn’t seem to help himself, she just smiled and told me to give it a try.
Just carrying something around satisfied his need for contact. Now, I’ll ask him to hold something for me – no fuss, no emphasis – and we’ll move on our merry way. Most of the time he won’t even notice. There are times when he rolls his eyes at me – he’s no fool – but he’ll take the item and then quickly forget he’s holding anything. And no more octopus.
It works at school, too.
Naturally, it’s difficult to get this idea across to teachers not in the know. After all, I wasn’t convinced when a therapist told me. And they tend to look at you askance when you urge them to just give him something to hold.
But those who know do it effortlessly. They just go to the kids who can’t keep their hands to themselves and ask them to hold something. Just until they need it back. Or use them to ‘help’ with demonstrations… even if they do nothing but stand there holding a prop.
Of course, we’re all familiar with fragile items and the inevitable consequences… but that’s fine. Don’t use fragile objects. Worried about missiles or dangerous objects? It takes work to do anything dangerous or spectacular with a tissue box. Or a cereal box. Or a pop tart box. You get the idea.
Tips like these don’t solve every problem. They’re really very limited in scope… but I’ll take every little thing that helps.
Note: Thank you, Kaela, for giving me this tip! Hopefully, it will calm even more busy little hands out there.
Oh, and the Planters container in the picture? It’s made out of plastic. 😉