My daughter, from about the time she was one, has always had to carry a toy or two, or a bucketful along with her to the car. It didn’t matter if I was just driving down the street to the bank, she still had to have her toys with her. And if I were going into the store, she had to take her toys in with her. If I didn’t allow her to take them, it would create a meltdown.
There’s only been one time where I couldn’t allow her to take a toy into the store with us, as it was her big plastic dump truck. I can understand why she loves the thing, it is colorful, it’s a big cool truck, and it can carry more of her toys. But I’m not sure the store’s employees or security team would see it that way, especially if she tosses it out of the buggy a few times and I relentlessly give it back to her, rather than leaving it where she threw it.
When I say meltdowns, some people just think, oh it’s just a toddler thing. But to those who have Autistic children or have worked with them know how Autistic children can be when it comes to needing that particular toy or item. Autistic children can either be very smart or the complete opposite. They don’t understand feelings, like if they hit you, they don’t know that it hurts. They can’t understand why they can’t have a certain toy, or a cookie before dinner. This leads to a meltdown.
My daughter has a Sensory Processing Disorder which means certain things feel funny to her, or she doesn’t like it if you touch her hands, or feet. She can’t stand the feel of mud on her skin, or silly putty, or anything that feels wet on her skin (unless she’s taking a bath or swimming in the pool), her reaction is to quickly wash whatever it is off of her.
She also has the tendency to hit herself when she has a meltdown, sometimes even bangs her head against something, mostly the floor. When I say she hits herself, I’m not talking about a light tap, she has her hands in a fist and literally hits herself in the head or her arms, really hard.
She has a wonderful group of therapist that see her each day. And I had the chance to see what all they do with her this past summer. By seeing how they work and her reactions I’ve been able to continue the same process with my daughter myself. Like drawing, coloring, helping her with her shapes and colors, puzzles, playdoh, the list is endless on the amount of activities and all to continue to help my daughter throughout the day.
Most recently we’ve been working on keeping the toys and stuffed animals in the car, instead of taking them in with us. I think she started doing this when I started taking her swimming this summer. I told her calmly that we couldn’t take all of her toys with her, but she could play with them once we got back in the car. I began to notice that she started leaving her toys in the car when we took our trips to the store and now when I drop her off at daycare in the mornings. She still has meltdowns, but not when I ask her to leave her toys in the car.