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Toys that don’t get touched

Miriam Gwynne by Miriam Gwynne Additional Needs

Miriam Gwynne

Miriam Gwynne

Full time mum and carer for two truly wonderful autistic twins. I love reading, writing, walking, swimming and encouraging others. Don’t struggle a...

My living room floor has them, shelves on my children’s rooms have them and even their beds are lined with them...set ups of toys that don’t appear to get touched. 

I vacuum around them, sweep beside them and dust them without moving them because while these toys might appear to be unloved and untouched they are actually extremely precious exactly where and how they are. 

My children are autistic and they play quite differently to others.

My son loves toy plastic food, cuddly toys from his favourite show and putting things in and out of bags.

His sister loves Playmobil, things you can collect, and little figures.

Every night before bed my son lines up a row of plastic food on his bed before going to sleep and my daughter spends hours looking at her Playmobil set ups without ever touching them. 

My son has no spoken language and significant learning difficulties so he can’t explain why he does this but his twin sister can.

I asked her recently about her toys. 

“Mum who do toys have to be touched to play with them? I like to imagine in my mind what is going on in the toy house or with my figures because if I move them I worry they won’t ever look exactly the same again. I worry I might lose a piece or get it mixed up with something else and they are too precious for that to happen. I like looking at them and knowing they are exactly as I left them.” 

She really got me thinking.

How many adults like to display trophies, awards or even photographs? We gain so much from looking at these things, remembering past times and people and achievements.

We visit art galleries, museums and admire displays in shop windows.

We don’t feel the need to touch, move or ‘play’ with these items and yet this is accepted and encouraged. 

But whenever a child is given a toy we somehow expect them to touch, manipulate or move it in order to accept that they like it and are playing with it. 

For some children, and adults, the appreciation of an item is not in its manipulation but in its beauty and perfection and simply in its ownership. 

So if your child, autistic or not, builds a Lego model once then sits it on a shelf, or set up a dolls house only to just look at it, or lines up cars or toy food in lines then walks away, don’t be too quick to think they don’t like the item, or they are not playing.

Sometimes the toys that don’t seem to be touched are actually the ones loved and appreciated the most. So much so that they want them to be perfect forever. 

It might not be how many others play but if it brings my children comfort, happiness and joy then it brings all them to me as a parent too. 


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