Since it’s summer I’m into some deep cleaning and sorting. In our community we have a Facebook ‘For Sale’ group. I’ve put many items on this site and had great luck.
Today as I was going through our stuff I began to realize that I have all kinds of toys and general stuff from Estelle’s childhood. I don’t have much from Tucker. I wondered why…and then I remembered.
Everything was broken, chewed on, and/or missing pieces.
Before I knew that autism was in the picture I have a vivid memory of a ride home from his Grandma and Grandpa’s home. He would NOT stop chewing on one of his books. Now, I get that this had everything to do with ‘orality.’
At the time? I was angry. I was frustrated. I was irritated. I told him (oh…how I regret doing this) that if he put that book in his mouth one more time I would throw it out the window.
If there is one thing I knew about raising children it was about empty threats. To NEVER threaten anything you aren’t ready and willing to follow through on – because you will lose all credibility.
The book went out the window. He sobbed the last five minutes of the ride. I will never forget him screaming for five minutes. I will never forget holding back my own tears while trying to ‘stick to my guns.’ I will never forget how awful it all felt. All of it. I threw up when we got home – it was awful. To be that mean – to have to take that step – to be that frustrated. All of it. I’m not proud of that moment. I know some parents would be because I followed through on my promise. My gut just told me, even in that moment, that something wasn’t right.
It was the beginning of the end for most of his toys. Have you heard of Bruder toys? My mom noticed that Tucker was very ‘hard’ on his toys – everything was always breaking, cracking, and splitting. This wasn’t his personality though – he wasn’t hard on his toys because he was a troublesome child – it was like he just couldn’t control how he played with them.
He could break anything….mostly on accident.
She read an article about Bruder toys. Bruder toys were supposedly ‘indestructible.’ So, she invested in a Bruder Dump Truck (these toys are not cheap). The folks at Bruder hadn’t met Tucker the Tank.
It broke within two weeks, which was 12 days longer than most of his toys.
In fact, the only toys left after his toddler years are his Die Cast Metal Thomas the Trains engines. Not the plastic engines; the heavy, metal ones. These are the only toys that stood the test of The Tank.
When I started my research about the vestibular system it began to make sense and I found relief. I never really understood why he was so ‘hard’ on his toys. He was so caring and he wanted to play – but it was almost as if he couldn’t help himself.
It turns out, he couldn’t.
This is just one way that troubles within the vestibular system manifest. Reread Day #51 – Goosfraba. It’s one of my favorite posts because it so succinctly describes what Tucker experiences. It will also clearly show my growth between this moment and a moment involving a birdbath. The growth came from having a better understanding of what Tucker was experiencing.
He was a child – and he has autism. This means that…
he actually CANNOT recognize how heavy an object is
he actually CANNOT think through how his action will cause a reaction
he actually CANNOT recognize how tightly he grasps something
he actually CANNOT recognize how hard he throws something
He actually CANNOT move fluidly in his environment
he actually CANNOT recognize when he’s pushing or pulling too hard
That is the honest truth…he was (and sometimes still is) unable to recognize all of these feelings because he is lacking balance within the vestibular sense.
Why share this? Simple. The next time you see a ‘perfectly good’ child breaking something or behaving in a ‘non-typical’ way – stop. Don’t be like me. Don’t throw the book out of the window.
Stop. Look. Listen. Think.
Now I think about the missed opportunity here. I should have contacted and contracted with toy companies.
Think your toy is invincible? Unbreakable? Indestructible?
Find a kiddo on the spectrum and let them spend a couple of days with it. Trust me, we’ll be able to tell you where the ‘weak’ spots are – through the strength of the spectrum.