One of the hallmarks of autism is obsessive interests. Pkin has a few areas where this shows up. She also perseverates a bit (another hallmark) about completing “collections.” A collection can be pretty much any grouping of similar things — stuffed animals, toys, books…and Bath & Body Works products. She loves them. All of them. She would buy every last thing in their store if she could (except maybe candles — she’s afraid of candles ever since a birthday candle in preschool set off the fire alarm. We’re not even allowed to use them. Not sure what would happen if the power went out and we actually had to choose between using a candle and not seeing).
It started with an interest in the small hand sanitizers because her third grade teacher (her favorite) used them in class and Pkin loved the smell. She has always been a sensory seeker when it came to smells, so this was no surprise. That interest then expanded to shower gels and lotions and lip glosses and perfumes and sparkly body sprays and even sparklier body mousses.
DH and I installed another shelf this weekend so Pkin could put a few more pieces of her Bath & Body Works “collection” on display (and no, this is still not all of it). No one ever need worry about smelling bad at our house.
We still need another shelf (or two or three — or a small room) to fit everything. And as soon as we had something that would fit it all, she would surely buy more.
I’m sure some people would say we should put a stop to this — tell her she can’t buy more (at least not until more of it is used) and invoke the good ole standby to “put our foot down.” We see it differently. When you have a child who is interested in a very few and rather narrow group of things, sometimes the best thing a parent can do is help them explore those interests and, otherwise, get out of the way.