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Autism and the Garage Sale Dilemmas October 7, 2008

Posted by hopeauthority in Autism, Children, Family, humor, Parenting, special needs.
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

In my neck of the woods, we call them garage sales. Maybe you know them as tag sales, rummage sales, moving sales, or estate sales.

Some people look at them as a way of recycling treasures that one no longer needs and making a profit in the process. Others see them as a smart way to save money…a chance to buy used items at deep discounts. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure, as they say.

I am a pack-rat. I have 19 years worth of stuff in this house. So, I have my work cut out for me.  And in starting to plan my long overdue garage sale (tentatively set for this Friday), I realized that…once again…autism has complicated things a bit.

The first dilemma: How do I decide what to sell when it comes to the “old favorites” toys?

Sure, my daughter has long moved on from all the Polly Pockets, Barbies, and Sweet Streets town buildings and their little people. So, why are they mysteriously returning to the house from the “to be sold” piles in the garage?

Because, my son keeps fishing them out!

At 6, he still loves to play with little people and houses. He’s always been fascinated with them… though back in the early days, he never played appropriately. I remember how he used to use crayons (4 different colored ones) instead of people…and no dialogue.  These days, he spends lots of time playing with the people and houses, having them speak to each other and interact…all appropriately. He also plays well with cars of any size and the Imaginext playsets. He just loves people, buildings, and vehicles. 

But these toys have taken over! And if I have to keep looking at the freakin Little People House that we got our daughter10 years ago , I think I’m gonna scream! And what about his beloved ride-on Wiggles Big Red Car ( a 2nd birthday gift) that he can… and does… still squeeze himself into? And don’t even get me started on the extensive Barney tape collection…

Then there’s the second dilemma: What about the toys he hasn’t grown into yet?

You know the ones I mean. The gifts your child gets that are for a “typical” 6 year old and are too advanced for an autistic 6 year old (but that you desperately hope he will grow into someday soon). Don’t you just love those gifts?

So, I’m open to advice.

Do I ditch most of the baby-ish toys in the hope that he will gravitate toward the older toys? Maybe their presence is holding him back from “advancing”? Do I save the advanced toys hoping he’ll grow into them?  Or should I just be happy he’s playing appropriately with toys and not care that they are a few years behind where he “should” be?

Kids grow up so fast these days. Maybe the Wiggles aren’t so bad after all.

But Barney?  Now that’s another thing…



1. asdmommy - October 7, 2008

OHMYGOSH I could’ve written this post. I have this dilemma too! C’s room is a weird balance of toddler toys and building toys. I admit to getting rid of the most offensive (teletubbies stuff, etc.) as well as some of the grown up stuff (a batman car that he played with for a minute and said “What am I supposed to DO with this?” But overall, I tend to keep it all for awhile. I, too wonder if the younger toys are holding him back, but I kind of don’t think so. They just aren’t ready for that more grown-up stuff.

No solutions or suggestions, really, just understanding!

2. speakingaut - October 8, 2008

(Hi there! I found you on the “autism” WordPress tag, and your post sounded interesting, so I read the whole thing. We have the same style, too!)

I’m 22, and still love to play with “kid” toys. My solution isn’t very practical, but I was lucky to find it: find little kids to play with them with. (I have lots of younger cousins, and my parents kept a lot of our old toys “for the grandchildren” that probably won’t be born for at least ten more years.) For me, it’s partly a comfort thing, and partly a means of doing things on my terms.

I personally don’t feel it held me back at all — I learned to enjoy more “grown-up” things at only a slightly slower rate than everybody else around me. It helped that I spent a good deal of time around these people (including my younger sister, who’s as NT as NT can be) and wanted to join in.

I also find it an asset to be able to think like a small child. Kids love me for it, and it’s easy for me to work with them because I still remember how they work.

An idea for the garage sale: include him in the process, but dictate your own terms in a way that still gives him choice. If he has a good grasp on his numbers, you might put six toys you want to sell in front of him and have him choose three to keep and three to sell. If he’s not clear on numbers yet, make it a binary choice: “do you want to keep the X, or the Y?”

Keep the building-style toys, though: those can last way past their age range.

But whatever you do, ditch the Barney tapes. Please.

3. pattirenner - October 8, 2008

How cool is it that “C” is playing appropriately with those things. I really don’t see an age limit on fun – no matter what the manufacturer guidelines claim. Let him enjoy, but find a bin to store it all!
I am cracking up, because I have the same problem and my kids (ages 9 & 11) are “normal” – whatever that means. They refuse to part with even the smallest piece of their childhood toy collection. I have a garage sale, or a pile for charity, and it shrinks as the week goes by. The only way I can get them to get rid of anything is by encouraging them to give the item to the little boy next door (he’s 2). So I told my neighbor that one day soon, we’re hauling over a garage full of stuff for her kid – and I’ll arrange to have Goodwill send a truck to pick it up while the kids are in school. I’m hoping for “out of sight, out of mind” – before I really do go out of my mind from the clutter in the basement! Good luck with your sale!

4. Momma Knows - October 8, 2008

Me too, me too! The toys can just TAKE OVER sometimes! I try to weed through things every few months, but I dare not do it with kids around. Out of sight, out of mihd, as the gal above said! If you can do it while he’s at school, or even out in the yard (quickly, a little at at time!) then it will be less traumatic. I even sort through outgrown and out of season clothes this way. Otherwise my boys would wear turtlenecks and fleece socks in the summer!

5. hopeauthority - October 9, 2008

Thanks everyone on your input. Glad I’m not alone on this dilemma. And special thanks to speakingaut for bringing your special view on the topic, as many moms of little asd kids so desperately want to make the right choices now and it helps to hear from an expert on how those choices will affect our kids. Please drop in and comment anytime! I’m always looking to learn!

6. Tag Sell It Community Manager - October 16, 2008

If you do decide to have the sale we would definitely recommend listing your sale on a few online sites as well as your local paper. Signs are great, but if you’re selling children’s items you’ll get top dollar by letting people know before the sale starts. Craigslist is generally the first people start, but we of course favor our site: http://www.tagsellit.com

Either way, we wish you luck.

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