Autism fact: Nearly half of 25-year-olds with autism have never held a paying job.
Do you still have any of your childhood toys?
I certainly remember a lot of my toys. Numbered blocks from when I was two, which spurred my life-long affinity for math and order. Barbies, of course. American Girl dolls. Legos. Oh my gods, the Legos! That’s the one I really miss the most. The colors and shapes. The steps and instructions, having to put things together in the right order so you could create something fun or beautiful. And then the endless options for when you wanted to chuck the instructions out the window (which, admittedly, I rarely did, but the choice was always there). Those toys are long-gone, now. Faded away into the land of Goodwill and AmVets.
But I didn’t part with everything.
To this day, I still have all of my stuffed animals. They fill a bookcase in my room. All my old Friends, watching over me as I sleep. Out of everything from my childhood, these have proven impossible to part with. Almost all of them were given to me by my father for one reason or another. A birthday, perhaps. Or a random holiday (there’s a Ty bear covered in shamrocks that he got me on St. Patrick’s Day one year). The best ones were those he brought home when I was sick, curled up in bed with the flu. Dad would come home from work and tuck a new teddy bear under my arm, helping me feel better. I particularly remember him doing that with the brown bear toward the right of the middle shelf in this picture (click to expand):
I even still have a tiny rubber bear designed for teething babies, so it’s almost as old as I am (and I’ll be 36 this year).
There they sit, still on display. Year after year, I keep them. I’ve hauled them through six moves, hating to stick them in a box and loving when I get to pull them out again. On the rare occasion my anxiety spikes severely enough to need it, I can still grab one of them to hold on to while I lie in bed, hiding out in the safety of the dark. A pillow would serve the same purpose, but it’s never quite as effective. There’s just something about that teddy bear shape that feels good.
This even comes up in my latest series, Transitivity. The series is very dark and taboo, so I won’t get into it much here, other than to say that a bit of real life found its way into the story with Kacey receiving a stuffed bear from his stepdad when he has a hospital visit, as well as having kept all his own Friends from throughout his life, even when he moves out on his own.
For a child with autism, toys can serve an essential need, giving the child a source of tactile contentment, as well as helping them feel more grounded.
Which toys were you fond of as a kid? Do you still have any of them? Post your answer in a comment, and be entered to win a random drawing for the e-book of your choice from my backlist (except the Matchmakers combined edition), sent direct to your Kindle email address. Winner will be chosen at the end of the blog tour, and will need to add email@example.com to their list of approved senders.
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