Three years ago I mistakenly bought my son a giant conch shell…

I have a son who’s on the spectrum. It’s quite common for people like him to latch onto one specific topic and become an absolute encyclopedia about it. Some people choose trains, some a cartoon. For my son, this was mollusks. Interesting topic I know, but it seemed to be a pretty good deal for us because it meant he’d get really excited about going outside to the beach which we figured was healthier than staying inside all the time. He’d always have a shell with him, or in his pocket. Usually he doesn’t want to talk much, but if you opened the conversation to it, he’d sit there rattling off facts about mollusks for hours.

This was shaping up to be a long term passion, so for his 15th birthday I went out and bought him a giant conch shell. He absolutely loved it. The texture, holding it to his ear etc. It was too big to carry around with him all the time, but he kept it by his bed.

Fast forward three years, this is where things get weird. About a month ago I was cleaning his room and picked up the conch to dust it off, something I’ve never actually done before. I was immediately hit by a terrible smell – I don’t want to get too into the gross details but I’m a dude, a once 18 year old dude, so I know what happens when you use something to masturbate and don’t clean it. I’m sure we all know what that smells like even after a week. It was pretty clear he had been using this shell as a kind of Strombidae fleshlight for a long, long time without cleaning it.

I’m not going to share too much about what happened when this all came to light, but we tried taking it away and my god you’d think we just took his whole world. We decided to give the shell back, but worried this reflected a deeper issue my partner and I decided to get some professional help.

So it’s been about a month of him seeing a behavioural therapist, and she recently asked me about his progress at home. I told her it’s been incredibly promising so far. He’s really starting to come out of his shell.