“For as long as I can remember, Ned has had in his hands, or very nearby, a selection of four-inch-tall posable familiars. Originally they were Star Wars characters and He-Men, play-things he liberated from big brother Ira’s Cardboard Box of Forgotten Childhood Effluvia….
When strangers trying to make conversation with Ned ask him to identify his figures, he always seems a little confused by the question. As far as he is concerned, the names and contexts of the little plastic fellas and gals are immaterial to his enjoyment of them. The people asking the question usually assume that he isn’t smart enough to know where they come from, poor little boy, and change the subject. He knows all right; he just doesn’t care. His action figures are for companionship and manipulation, not necessarily character-related fantasies that would require some kind of distinct persona. If they do require character traits, Ned is perfectly capable of making up stories himself without benefit of their comic-book reality…
We’ve never told him not to play with them in public, unless doing so prevented him from performing some other necessary activity. If strangers want to pity the kid because they think that’s all he can do, I could care less. I suppose I found it a little embarrassing a long time ago, but those days are gone. I’ve asked him why he likes action figures so much and why he always wants at least a few around. He looks at me as if I’ve just asked him why he breathes so much. Action figures are just part of who he is. But their power is declining, and some day the birthday will roll around when he doesn’t want any of them. But not yet.” pp 103-105
Does your loved one have a favorite toy? An obsessive collection? Does he/she talk to inanimate objects like friends? How do you respond? How do you feel about Palmer’s decision to allow Ned to “play” in public?
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