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Toy Overload

I entered Wal-Mart when they opened at 7am this morning. I departed with everything on my list as well as a bunch of unlisted toys for my 4-year-old autistic granddaughter who stays with JC and me a few days and nights each week.

The toys had deep closeout prices such as 25 cents for a 5-dollar item. I bought a bagful. Angelina will love them.

Or not.

Some of us autism grandparents are guilty of “toy overload,” and I may well be the champion. Research has proven over and over again that children (and everyone for that matter) are far more creative and interested and engaged when confronted with one or two items (toys, books, games, etc.) than when confronted with several, or as at our house, a zillion.

At our house Angelina can choose from stacks and stacks and piles and piles of all sorts of books: talking books, feely books, giant books, tiny books. And piles and bins and boxes of all sorts of things that can be categorized as toys.

After today’s Wal-Mart spree I did some Internet research regarding my proclivity towards toy overload. I found a lot, the bottom line of which is of course Angelina’s progress can be enhanced by exposing her only a few things at a time – rather than to a toy jambalaya.

I spent the afternoon removing toys and books from Angelina’s play areas. And from now on I will try to do the following things:

  1. Make available only 3 toys for Angelina. (A sketchbook and crayons count as 1. The Peppa Pig house and figures count as 1. And so forth.)

  2. Rotate toys between Angelina’s visits. (I figure our stockpile may last a year.)

  3. Help Angelina make toy-play a toy-learning experience. (“Peppa says she wants to invite 5 friends to her party. Can you select 5?”)

  4. Allow Angelina to conduct solo play without my involvement, but observe carefully for clues regarding opportunities to later help her developmental progress. (Like counting to 5.)

  5. Resist buying new toys, even if they’re marked down to a dime.

Long ago when my children were children I learned something that most parents know: a big cardboard box can entertain and stimulate creativity for hours and days and months. Angelina still loves the big cardboard box that we got for her a long time ago. I’m going to give her more opportunity to be creative with it.

I also learned something else with my children – something for which Angelina is not yet a candidate. A broken gizmo from a thrift store (old radio or appliance or computer), along with a couple of screwdrivers and wrenches, can be engaging, enjoyable, and educational. (But be sure to remove any dangerous stuff such as capacitors that may still hold a charge.)

One of the deep-discount toys I bought this morning is a Paw Patrol Might Pups Action Pack Gift Set. It’s one of the 3 toys that now await Angelina’s next visit.



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