Autism can certainly change your definition of the word "toy." Most people think of the typical toy store gadgets; cars, trucks, etc. But in the autism family, a toy can be anything! One of my son's FAVORITE "toys" is a kitchen timer! He loves them! We've had several different varieties, and I think he generally prefers the more simple egg timers or a small digital timer that he can stick on the side of the fridge. He also LOVES thermometers. He received a minimum/maximum thermometer for Christmas, and it is currently on the dining room window for easy access. I must admit, I've gotten some great use out these toys!
It used to bother me a great deal. I'd feel horrible for buying him a kitchen gadget, or shopping for him in the housewares or tool section (there was the padlock phase that necessitated the hardware section....) but then I changed my thought process. He was having fun and truly enjoys these odd things. Isn't that the point of a toy? To engage the child, to foster creativity and imagination, to....gasp...be enjoyed?! So it was on that day I hung up my bad feelings and replaced them with a new sense of wonder. I marvel at how he can manipulate these gadgets better than I, and how much joy they bring to him. Who cares if that he asked for a $12.00 thermometer instead of the $120.00 Lego set! I'm not complaining!