“Again! Again!” The Repetitive Toys of Autism

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Lately, every time I sit down at my computer there are two little smiling eyes on me.

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His name is Chase and he is from Paw Patrol.

The figure sits next to my computer because I want to list him on eBay.  He is a constant reminder of an item on my “To Do” list.

I found him last week in a forgotten toy bin.  I know that there is a demand for these little figures on eBay as I have sold this figure on eBay MANY times before.

Why did we have so many?  Well, let me tell you.

Declan’s Toy Journey

You may have heard me say it before, and you will probably hear it again.  When Declan was younger he NEVER PLAYED WITH TOYS.

Declan could not be left alone for a second.  Declan’s toys were the wires as he liked to chew them.  Shampoo or toothpaste containers as he liked to squeeze them out all over the place.  He enjoyed climbing and would get the laundry detergent from above the washer only to dump entire containers out, once all over Bobby’s hockey equipment.  He undid all the door stoppers.  He swung from the curtains.  He broke picture frames to play with the glass and dressers were meant to be climbed.

(I don’t think an outsider REALLY understands that a house that has been deemed “baby proofed” is still a danger to a child with autism.  Our house had to be AUTISM PROOFED.  But this is a subject for another day).

If you gave Declan a toy he would throw it.  If you sat down and tried to engage him in a toy he would pick the toy up and throw it at you.  A toy car garage made my lip bleed once when it was thrown.

His first Christmas’s and Birthday’s were laden with new toys.  Only to be later donated practically brand new.  Toys I had saved from my older children were being donated as Declan never touched them.

It got to a point that for Christmas and his Birthday, I said no to toys.  Declan didn’t play with them.  And it was sad to just give them all away.

BUT THEN!!

But then, one day, he wanted a toy at the store.

I don’t remember the toy.  But he wanted the toy and he held the toy and I bought him the toy.  He took the toy home and carried it with him.

Subsequent trips to the store were similar.  Declan wanted a toy.  My husband and I were THRILLED so of course, we bought him a toy.  I justified it as we had not bought him a new toy for years.  Now was the time!

But then the repetition of autism kicked in.  Our trips to the store became uniform.  We went to the store and he wanted a toy.  The same toy he bought last time, and the time before that, and the time before that, and the time before that.

Chase, the Paw Patrol racer is one of those repetitive toys.  A $5 toy.  HAD to be bought or Declan went into crisis.  And Paw Patrol was never a big deal to Declan.

It was the newness that Declan liked.  He liked getting the toy.  He liked holding it.  Did he play with them all?  I soon realized the pleasure Declan experienced from the toy was its purchase.  Not to play with it.

I came up with tricks.  I would give Declan an old version of the toy while I kept the new one in the bag in hopes to return it the next day.  ALONE.  Trips to the store were limited when Declan was around.  And eventually, for Christmas and his Birthday I asked my mom to give him $5 gift cards to Target so when we went, he could go pick out a toy.

Declan’s play has developed this past year.  Every now and again we will leave a store with a toy he has already purchased.  And he will sometimes sit and play with a toy.  When he gives presents to himself or to his Spiderman son, it is always a wrapped flashlight, pencil and tape.

Declan’s real play comes from his imagination, a costume and a scene that gets acted out by himself or with someone else willing to “get the bad guys” with him. 

And this entire week, Chase the racer has sat by my computer, never touched by Declan, waiting for me to reclaim some of my money on a future eBay sale.

It’s been quite a toy journey, I guess.  I am glad the day Chase entered our lives.  And I am fine now, sending him on his way (and hope that we do not end up buying him again one day!)

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12 thoughts on ““Again! Again!” The Repetitive Toys of Autism

  1. At least he got hooked on a cheaper toy than most children today! Under $10 beats just under $1000! At least he gives his “son” gifts. Aparently, he is not a selfish person!

    1. I agree! Some of those toys are very expensive. We tried to keep him around the $5 toys as much as we could. Yes, that is good – he does love to give gifts!

  2. Oh yes…. Autism Proofing. We still have to move the couch in front of the front door & padlock the back gate to prevent eloping (we live on a very busy street) You’re right, no one can really understand unless they’ve lived it. The toy collecting too. Ben has about 200 diecast cars. Mostly police cars. He does occasionally play with them but I’d never be able to donate or sell them even if he didn’t because the first thing he did with every new car was bust out all the windows😕

    1. Oh no! We had a couple like that – Declan loved Lego’s. He never put them together or anything – he had his older brother do that. AS SOON AS the lego was assembled, it got destroyed, I ty my best to skip that aisle completely! (I knew you’d understand the “autism proof” house!) 🙂

    1. Today, yes – we have all the different spidermen and their bad guys. And if he does sit down to play it will most likely be with them. Good call! 🙂

  3. I really enjoyed reading this. Thank you for sharing both your trials and your celebrations 😃🦉

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