Coin Craze

I once blogged about our need to avoid casinos because of Rhema’s addiction to slots.

In recent months, the obsession has returned full force.

My girl can often be found with a coin pressed in her hot little hand. She stealthily (or so she thinks) scrounges around in my purse for a nickel or dime. Then she bolts to the family room where there’s a crack in the floor and she slides the coin inside.

I think she may have a future in hacking soda machines. She makes sure to press the change return button, and she religiously checks for wayward coins on or around the kiddie rides at the mall. While she appreciates a snack from the vending machine, and she loves the rides, much of the thrill comes from pushing coins into the slot over and over.

On several occasions we’ve had to intervene when she’s walked up to total strangers and tried to take money out of their hands… or dig in their pockets. When blocked from inserting coins, she’s been known to break down in tears. Her world is out of order until each coin finds its home in a slot spot…

Be it the vents in Grandma’s bathroom:

or her CD player:

There were times in days gone by when quarters were accidentally shredded in the paper shredder. Or baked in the oven. There was the daily experience of driving in the car with coins raining down from vents above the console:


Last week when we were in Michigan we went to a mall that has a wonderful carousel. (Merry-go-rounds happen to also be one of Rhema’s great loves.) When we arrived the ride was temporarily closed, so we sat down in the Food Court for lunch. While the girls were still eating, the ride opened and the carousel went round and round.

Suddenly Rhema jumped from her chair with a penny in hand (I have no idea where she got it from) and ran faster than the Roadrunner to the ride. Just before hurdling the gate to the carousel, she stopped to push her penny into a slot (the ride actually took $1 tokens).

I was one proud mama. In years past, she would have trampled people and jumped onto the ride in 2 seconds flat. But this time she actually stopped to try and pay before lunging for a horse. What manners my girl has! And she gets it! She totally understands the concept of value in money! She’s got that “freedom to purchase” tenet of consumerism down!  

Or maybe it was all just part of the obssession. Or the cause and effect. Or… something.

But hey, if a coin in a slot can bring about this jackpot of joy…



then maybe there’s worth in holding onto pennies!

29 thoughts on “Coin Craze

  1. Aww, she looks so pretty. Love it! Ethan loves coins too, and in particular putting them in his dinosaur piggy bank that has a nice long neck and makes a cool sound as they go down. He keeps asking me for money to put in it and doesn’t realize he’s completely wiped me out of change!

  2. I love that she took the time to put the coin in the slot before leaping on the merry go round! And the creative places she finds to stash coins amazes me…there are so many slots in this world that go unnoticed except by little eyes with a coin in their hot little hand! That carousel looks familiar…I live in small town Michigan and the local mall has a carousel that looks like that in the food court area. My niece is in love with it!

  3. Hey the dinosaur piggy bank witn the long neck and cool coin going down sounds sounds like a good potential solution! Coins in a slot in an actual BANK! Of course, it may sit empty as she turns up her darling little nose at such an attempt to stifle her nook and cranny finding freedom. 😉

  4. Total joy on that carousel! When Nigel was about 7 we had to walk through a casino (against my better judgment). I was so afraid that it would be a sensory nightmare for him. Instead – you guessed it – he loved putting coins in any machine that would take them! It’s like he filtered out all the noises because he enjoyed all the flashing lights or something. I’m still scratching my head over that one. That was back in the day when we couldn’t go into stores and restaurants, but somehow he could manage a casino!

  5. My son has a bank that looks like an ATM. You add the coins into a slot – your daughter would love it! Plus it makes all the sounds an ATM usually makes. We got it at Target but I’ve seen it at other stores too. Good Luck!!!!

  6. my son loves putting things in the vent and so I bought him a bank for Christmas that counts the money..Now he has saved almost $55.00 in loose change he finds. I give him the money as soon as I get home from work and he counts it in his bank.

  7. My son loves anything that dangles or spins….. we can not go for walks if any of the houses have windchimes. He will have a complete meltdown if he can’t make them chime.

  8. Leap Frog has a cool bank. You can put coins in the slot and it makes a cash register sound. It also identifies the coin and adds it to the sum in the bank. You can also watch the coin go down into the bank, and coins can easily be removed from the back. Just a thought!

  9. Thought my son was the only one!! We actually went ahead and bought a gumball machine so that at least we can recycle the quarters instead of leaving them in every gumball machine we pass. He was actually refusing to go to any restaurant that did not have “quarter machines” until we got our own. A pricey solution, but I figure it will pay off since we get to keep our quarters!

  10. My son (autism, age 11) likes to put coins, paper, etc, into the vents and the cd player in my car. He also likes to take the twist ties in the produce department at the grocery store and stick them in the vents in the display tables. I try to stop him but he usually puts a few in there before I notice. He does like to put coins in his brother’s piggy bank, I need to get him one of his own. My son also loves the carousel!! 🙂

  11. Funny how coins attract these kiddos! Have you ever read born on a blue day by Daniel Tammet? He talks about how he could spend hours stacking coins and just feeling the texture of them =) My little guy with ASD does the Same things with coins. My dryer went out a while ago and I had to use a dryer at my complex, I didn’t have enough to dry the load of clothes that I had, so I started looking, he likes to slide his in the tiny gap under the family room tv, the osolating fan, the dvd player but the WORST was the WII!!! When he was about 2 it used to drive me insane. I always thought he was trying to put them in his mouth- but nope! He just wanted to find somewhere to stick it- so we got him a piggy bank…. He never used it… HAHA! I still find them all over. However- he did learn the wii was NOT a good idea after he broke his favorite game! LOL

  12. We should all be so lucky to find joy in small things. We try so hard to teach our kids, but we can learn a lot if we just open our eyes.

  13. my daughter always stacks coins that are left lying around, into size order. she also used to be a nightmare in clothes shops as she used to have to space all the coat hangers with the same gap between each one and she hated being interrupted before she was finished. she had the same obsession with the fringe on her nannas rug!

  14. My son used to have a similar fixation. One time, he climbed into the car ahead of me, climbed across the front seat, and put himself into his booster seat in the back. Meanwhile, I fastened his infant brother into his seat. Somehow, without my notice, he had slipped not one, but three quarters into my seat belt. It clicked on, no problem, but for three days until a young colleague fished out the quarters with a pair of tweezers, I had to slither in and out of the seat belt because it wouldn’t open.

  15. Our guy would pocket anything lying loose on the ground. In high school, his pockets were bursting every day with his treasures– broken ponytail holders, pencils nubs, coins, bits of broken plastic and torn papers–it was amazing how much “stuff” hit the floor! Then, when he began shop class, all the different shiny metals, spools of copper, electrical odds and ends became the obsession. When I discovered that stash, he had to return it all and explain to the teacher why it had been missing, but the rest of the loot filled several boxes. We tinkered with his meds, for an unrelated issue, and the “treasure” hunting and hoarding stopped!

  16. My son (autism, age 6) used to obsess with the a/c grates on the floor and with outdoor drains – anything where he could toss a small object in and see/hear it go down. At his school he got the other boys hooked on tossing small pebbles into the drain, and they would do this every day during recess for at least 15 minutes. He doesn’t engage in these behaviors anymore, but I’m wondering what we will find in the vents this spring when we get them cleaned!

  17. My daughter really likes putting coins in places they don’t belong. All summer long she kept putting them in the slots of the tower fan. More recently it’s been in the computer SD reader slots or the Wii game slot. If she has a coin, you have to watch out!

  18. You write so beautifully.

    You have such positive attitude.

    You have touched me with your writings.

    Thank you for sharing.

    Jesselyn Ng , a fellow mom in this world of autism and at the other half of the globe, Singapore.

  19. Pingback: More trouble at the slots « Autism In a Word

  20. I came along your post as I was looking for toy ideas for my coin-slot obsessed son with autism. He is turning 10 soon and I am hoping to find a few things that will allow him to SAVE the coins rather than randomly spend them in any machine he can find! Funny, this is a new obsession for him. Guess it is somewhat common! 🙂

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