Toy Car Story 2

Many nights after supper, I take down the box of cars that I first wrote about in this post from the living room shelf to let Philip play. He loves to take the box from me, hold it up high in the air and let the cars clatter loudly onto the floor.

I will let Philip play with them in the dining room while I either wash dishes, do other cleaning or just take some time to relax. Yet, as I wrote about in this post, we’ve been advised not to allow Philip to play alone for extended periods of time. So, I will join him on the floor and “vroom, vroom” the cars, trying to model how to the roll the cars around in a more functional form of play.

As you can see from these pictures, if left to his own devices, Philip won’t play with the cars functionally. Instead, he will arrange them in patterns, some of which I find quite interesting. For some reason, he will often take one car of each color, line them up on the table and then play with the rest on the floor.

About a week after we started this new ritual, I was sitting at my desk when Philip came over, grabbed my hand and led me to the dining room. He pushed my hand to the empty box. I opened it up and began to sing the clean-up song. He cried, but he put those cars in the box. He then pushed me over the shelf, crying the entire time, to make sure that I put the box away.

This has repeated several times. Sometimes he doesn’t cry, or else he waits to cry when I’m putting the box away. Sometimes he throws the cars, frustrated to hear that he is “all done” and has to pick the toys up. To distract him the one evening, I named the colors of the cars as he put them in the box. This seemed to help. On another evening, there was a car not from this set on the floor. He picked it up, looked at it and put it to the side. He knew that it didn’t belong in this box.

Last night, he actually laughed as we picked up the cars together. In fact, having just put the last one in, I stood up and the one end of the box gave out sending the cars crashing onto the floor. Philip helped me pick them all up again without complaint.

5 thoughts on “Toy Car Story 2

  1. I love the patterns Philip makes with his little toy cars:) Functional play re: cars. I remember when I used to wonder when my son would “play” with the cars and not just organize them etc and sometimes I would feel myself panic inside. I’ve come to realize that my son lines “things” up for various reasons but the biggest reason is it makes him feel better and lessons his anxiety. Its a way he self-regulates. As he has gotten older we’ve been able to translate it daily life skills ie sorting the laundry for washing, putting dishes in dish washer, tidying up his room etc. Seeing the colors of the cars and sorting them in certain patterns can be visually stimulating (like my son) or its motor planning related where lining things up over and over is a maneuver that has been successful and feels good to do this. Over the last year I feel like I’ve become quite the detective trying to figure out “why” he does what he does and I’m still learning. Just know that you are doing an amazing job and sometimes you have to let them do what makes them feel good so that they can have lots of learning opportunities. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for sharing your perspective. I agree that Philip needs to have time to sort and arrange. Playing with these cars was the first time I ever witnessed Philip sorting by color, so I don’t think it is necessarily bad for him.


      1. I agree 🙂 One professional that manages my son’s school and has a lot of experience in Early Childhood Education and Special Needs gave me good advice. She said trust your gut and sometimes we have to let our kids do what makes them feel good. It’s like how if I love chocolate cake. One piece is yummy but eating the whole cake would be excessive and give me a tummy ache:) That’s how I try to approach some of the behaviours. See why my son does what he does…even imitate and see if that makes me see it from his point of view.

        At a course I went to to learn about ABA therapy a therapist who does IBI turned the idea of functional play upside down for me. She said instead of trying so hard to get my son to play with the shapes or cars like everyone wants him to, try to think of 6 different things you can do with those shapes or cars. What?? She said drop the shapes or cars from high and have him watch them go bang etc. Put shaving cream on a cookie tray and have him play with the shapes or cars in it and have sensory fun. Why? So that my son would understand that there are other fun ways to play with his toys that also provide sensory input and maybe he’ll be more up for doing the vrroom next. I gotta say it peaked his curiosity and slowly has worked.


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