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Thread: Something to keep nervous hands busy

  1. #1
    Senior Member Prissnboot's Avatar
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    Something to keep nervous hands busy

    My stepson is autistic and when he gets nervous, or if there's a loose thread on a shirt or ANYTHING, he will mess with it and fuss with it until he's torn the garment or whatever apart into pieces. When he was younger, my husband said many days he would come home from school in a different shirt than what he wore to school.

    He is turning 20 this Sunday, and I am thinking of making some potholder sized squares and then stitching fancy stitches in it and leaving the tails of the thread loose, so he can pick at these when he's nervous - what do you think?

    He's been preoccupied with many things lately and obsesses over them, and has started tearing things up again. I've thought about doing this before but just haven't done it, and with his birthday coming up, I thought this might be a good thing to do.

    I know one of you out there has autistic children - I would love to hear all of your opinions....

    Thanks,
    Gina in Kingwood TX
    She looks for wool and flax And works with her hands in delight.

  2. #2
    Super Member DebraK's Avatar
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    It sounds like a good idea. i don't know about for his birthday though.
    I have chosen to be happy because it is good for my health - Voltaire

  3. #3
    Super Member QuiltingKrazy's Avatar
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    I don't have an autistic child but have worked with them when I was in the school system with EC classes.
    I do miss those special children. You know your child best so If you think this may help, then I would make then.
    What about something crocheted or knitted? Any chance he could us that nervous energy to create something like
    weaving those old loom potholders? Maybe he could make one then take it apart? Good luck and God Bless you
    and him!
    Lisa B in NC
    Quilting is my Happy Thought!
    http://www.quiltingkrazy.blogspot.com

  4. #4
    Power Poster dunster's Avatar
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    It sounds as if the loose thread makes him nervous, so why provide more loose threads? I understand you're trying to help, but it might just feed his anxiety. I would recommend asking a professional who deals with autism, preferably someone who is seeing your stepson.

  5. #5
    Super Member GrannieAnnie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Prissnboot View Post
    My stepson is autistic and when he gets nervous, or if there's a loose thread on a shirt or ANYTHING, he will mess with it and fuss with it until he's torn the garment or whatever apart into pieces. When he was younger, my husband said many days he would come home from school in a different shirt than what he wore to school.

    He is turning 20 this Sunday, and I am thinking of making some potholder sized squares and then stitching fancy stitches in it and leaving the tails of the thread loose, so he can pick at these when he's nervous - what do you think?

    He's been preoccupied with many things lately and obsesses over them, and has started tearing things up again. I've thought about doing this before but just haven't done it, and with his birthday coming up, I thought this might be a good thing to do.

    I know one of you out there has autistic children - I would love to hear all of your opinions....

    Thanks,
    Gina in Kingwood TX

    My 11 year old grandson is autistic. I do know that you have to do what works for your child, so it sounds like you are on to something! Good luck.
    Bad Spellers of the World
    U N T I E

  6. #6
    Power Poster Rhonda's Avatar
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    It doesn't make him nervous but is an obsession. I am sure. My DGS has obsessions too. He is autistic and 11.
    If this helps your stepson calm himself I think the hotpads with threads to pull out is an excellent idea.

    We have to find ways to help them cope with their everyday life. Obsessions are just a part of the package. We learn to channel them so they are manageable and I think you are onto something for your stepson.

    fortunately my DGS has left some obsessions behind as in running to whatever catches his attention. And he is no longer obsessed with slides. now he is obsessed with printing off Wiggles pics on You tube and writing stories around them. The laptop and drawing keeps him busy for hours. He is bound and determined to make his own movie! He has always been obessed with movies and tv shows and the behind the scenes info as in what studio makes that program and who the sponsors are and what ads are shown on there. He could one day become a director who knows??

  7. #7
    Senior Member Prissnboot's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dunster View Post
    It sounds as if the loose thread makes him nervous, so why provide more loose threads? I understand you're trying to help, but it might just feed his anxiety. I would recommend asking a professional who deals with autism, preferably someone who is seeing your stepson.
    Perhaps I wasn't clear - I want to give him this to pick at instead of his clothes. It's something small enough that he could put in his pocket and take to school discreetly.
    She looks for wool and flax And works with her hands in delight.

  8. #8
    Power Poster nativetexan's Avatar
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    how about doing those "tags" that are so popular for babies these days. loops of ribbons and such sewn in the edges.

  9. #9
    Senior Member QuiltMania's Avatar
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    That would be a very good idea. You could also try this: Sew 2 small squares together like you would if you were making a pillow (felt works well for this). Leave 1 side open and turn to the right side. Tuck about 1/4 of the open side over so you won't have raw edges for the next step. Starting at the open side, sew a curvy line throughout the square. Move over about 7/8 inch or so and sew another curvy line following the path of the line you just sewed. Basically, you are making a track. You can make it as simple or complex as you want. The track should start and end at the open side. Drop a marble into the track. Topstitch the open side closed. Now you have a small "fidget" for your stepson to take with him. To use it, he just moves the marble back and forth along the track. I have seen this work well with many of the autistic kids I work with.

  10. #10
    Super Member Jan in VA's Avatar
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    "I've thought about doing this before but just haven't done it,"
    There's your answer. You are the mother; you know him better than anyone. If this idea has come to you before, then this time is the confirmation; you really don't need it from us.
    Do it!

    Best to you and your son on this journey.
    Hugs,
    Jan in VA
    Jan in VA
    Living in the foothills
    peacefully colors my world.
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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by QuiltMania View Post
    That would be a very good idea. You could also try this: Sew 2 small squares together like you would if you were making a pillow (felt works well for this). Leave 1 side open and turn to the right side. Tuck about 1/4 of the open side over so you won't have raw edges for the next step. Starting at the open side, sew a curvy line throughout the square. Move over about 7/8 inch or so and sew another curvy line following the path of the line you just sewed. Basically, you are making a track. You can make it as simple or complex as you want. The track should start and end at the open side. Drop a marble into the track. Topstitch the open side closed. Now you have a small "fidget" for your stepson to take with him. To use it, he just moves the marble back and forth along the track. I have seen this work well with many of the autistic kids I work with.
    Great idea for any child who needs to be entertained.
    Linda

  12. #12
    Super Member patchsamkim's Avatar
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    I don't know if this would be of any help, but it possibly could. It is actually a quilt for patients with Alzheimer's, but
    maybe making squares with different parts of the quilt for keeping his hands busy.

    http://figjamandlimecordial.com/2011...nsory-blanket/

  13. #13
    Senior Member Elise1's Avatar
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    My autistic son is 19 years old. You would not believe what his current fidget item is. Anyway, I think you should try your idea.

    My son spent many years with Silly Putty in his hands. It really does help to calm them.
    "Be brave enough to be who you really are.

  14. #14
    Super Member willferg's Avatar
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    I think it's worth a try. Sure can't hurt and it's very thoughtful of you to think of it. Let us know how it goes!
    People who start projects and never finish them are cooler
    than people who never start projects at all.


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  15. #15
    Super Member irishrose's Avatar
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    The loose threads don't make him nervous, the world does and pulling threads is as good a way to deal with it as any. I think you have a good idea. I just wouldn't use so strong a decorative stitch that it won't come undone. That part may be soothing to him.

    Hugs to you as you care for him and your family.

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    Quote Originally Posted by lfstamper View Post
    Great idea for any child who needs to be entertained.
    You could always try one of these to see if he found it soothing and something with thread also to see if he has a preference.
    Cheryl Robinson
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    Quote Originally Posted by Elise1 View Post
    My autistic son is 19 years old. You would not believe what his current fidget item is. Anyway, I think you should try your idea.

    My son spent many years with Silly Putty in his hands. It really does help to calm them.
    I had some therapeutic putty ( seemed a lot like Silly Putty to me - different colors had different resistances ) and I LOVED to play with it.

  18. #18
    lbc
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    Senior Member lbc's Avatar
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    Sounds like a great and very thoughtful idea. Good luck - I hope it works.

  19. #19
    Member Tollergirl's Avatar
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    Ask his teacher or therapist, they probably have taken data about his picking at things and how it effects his anxiety level. As a speech pathologist, I have seen some behaviors that are soothing and some that increase anxiety. Heavy blankets and clothing are often very soothing, so creating a thick quilt might be a great idea. Good Luck.

  20. #20
    Super Member wanda lou's Avatar
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    I think you have come up with a wonderful idea. go for it!
    Never look down on anyone, unless you are helping them up.

  21. #21
    Power Poster twinkie's Avatar
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    I have an autistic GS and an autistic great nephew. Is it possible that you could give him a ball of yarn with the end hanging out. Just a thought.

    Quote Originally Posted by Prissnboot View Post
    My stepson is autistic and when he gets nervous, or if there's a loose thread on a shirt or ANYTHING, he will mess with it and fuss with it until he's torn the garment or whatever apart into pieces. When he was younger, my husband said many days he would come home from school in a different shirt than what he wore to school.

    He is turning 20 this Sunday, and I am thinking of making some potholder sized squares and then stitching fancy stitches in it and leaving the tails of the thread loose, so he can pick at these when he's nervous - what do you think?

    He's been preoccupied with many things lately and obsesses over them, and has started tearing things up again. I've thought about doing this before but just haven't done it, and with his birthday coming up, I thought this might be a good thing to do.

    I know one of you out there has autistic children - I would love to hear all of your opinions....

    Thanks,
    Gina in Kingwood TX

  22. #22
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    Have you considered worry beads that can be kept in a pocket. So many do use them.

  23. #23
    Super Member GrannieAnnie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by patchsamkim View Post
    I don't know if this would be of any help, but it possibly could. It is actually a quilt for patients with Alzheimer's, but
    maybe making squares with different parts of the quilt for keeping his hands busy.

    http://figjamandlimecordial.com/2011...nsory-blanket/

    What I'm hearing is that this young man needs something WITH HIM AT ALL TIMES to fiddle with. The little squares sound like a great idea.
    Bad Spellers of the World
    U N T I E

  24. #24
    Super Member WMUTeach's Avatar
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    I would talk with his "teacher" or other professional that is helping him develop coping skills. Share you ideas that you shared with us and get his or her input. You may have struck on a good idea or you may need to modify it just a bit to me most effective. It all depends on the autistic individual. Your aim is to help and that individual should have ideas of how you can do that.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tollergirl View Post
    Ask his teacher or therapist, they probably have taken data about his picking at things and how it effects his anxiety level. As a speech pathologist, I have seen some behaviors that are soothing and some that increase anxiety. Heavy blankets and clothing are often very soothing, so creating a thick quilt might be a great idea. Good Luck.
    Having worked for a child psychiatrist for several years, this is the best advice so far IMHO!

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