People ask us ALL the time about Apollo’s bucket (or “Gecko Bucket” as Apollo calls it). Those that have seen the TV Show, PJ Masks, know exactly what character I’m talking about. Apollo originally got his Gecko Bucket from the Easter Bunny, and now uses said bucket to carry around his preferred objects/toys or “treasures” as he calls them.
“Why does Apollo carry around so many objects/toys at once?”
Apollo hoards objects, and has hoarded objects since before he could walk. It isn’t too often that one sees Apollo with empty hands. Prior to having his bucket, he carried as many treasures as he could at once, in his hands. Now, he usually carries as many treasures as he can in his bucket, because he has found it to be a lot easier.
“Why does Apollo hoard objects?”
I believe that Apollo uses hoarding as a way to manage his stress and anxiety. Finding, collecting, and admiring his treasures appears to provide him with a calming and comforting affect that he needs. In a world full of uncertainty and so many overstimulating factors, I believe Apollo finds comfort in the fact that his treasures are always consistent, and always there to provide him comfort. He knows exactly where said bucket and treasures are at all times, and he takes them everywhere he goes; in the vehicle, to appointments, to the park. It sits next to him when he sleeps, next to the tub during baths, on the table when he eats… everywhere.
“Why does he carry around SO MANY objects in his bucket?”
I believe Apollo carries around so many objects at a time for 2 main reasons:
- Apollo’s a sensory-seeker (his body is under-sensitive to sensory input – so his body craves it, and he cannot seem to get enough from sensory activities, deep pressure, weights, etc.). His Gecko Bucket is quite heavy, and I believe that by carrying around a heavy bucket, he is getting the weight/deep pressure, sensory feedback that his body is craving.
- Since Apollo has a hard time transitioning and with change, I also believe he carries around so many treasures at once because he isn’t ready to part with any of the items. If you touch Apollo’s things or ask him what he wants to get rid of – he becomes anxious, agitated, and doesn’t handle the situation very well.
“Allowing him to carry around a bucket is creating a bad habit, aren’t you worried about that?”
Apollo can be a very frustrated, dysregulated and easily overstimulated child. While we are working very hard to help him learn how to better self-regulate – he still struggles on a daily basis. If allowing Apollo to carry around a bucket is the difference between having a great or a bad day – I’m going to choose to have a great day.
Consider this – some people like wearing hats and accessories, or carry purses around on a daily basis, and Apollo likes carrying around his Gecko Bucket. I find it interesting that it is acceptable for women to carry around purses, and unacceptable for my child to carry around a bucket. I honestly think that the entire problem lies in the fact that hats, purses and other accessories are more socially acceptable to have in public, than a bucket.
My feelings on the bucket are – if people don’t like what my child is carrying around, then kindly look elsewhere. Apollo’s bucket is not loud or disruptive and truly isn’t hurting anything but the judgmental eyes of others. Of all the challenges that Apollo faces on a daily basis, a bucket “habit” is the least of our worries.
“It’s a little early for trick-or-treating don’t you think?”
Let me start off by saying that I totally understand that it’s uncommon to see a child carrying around a bucket all year round; I understand that it makes people feel uncomfortable. Where I’m not as understanding, is when strangers walk up to my 4 year old son (autistic or not – this would not be ok) and proceed to make jokes about him and his bucket. It usually starts off with “What’s with the bucket?”, or “It’s a little early for trick-or-treating don’t you think?” And then goes into “What’s your name?”, “How old are you?”, and when he doesn’t respond (in the way they are satisfied with), then they turn to me and say “What’s wrong with him?”…
Autistic or not, kids should never be approached by a random adult and interrogated, and expected to divulge their whole life story or personal information – ever. If you wouldn’t run up to a random adult and ask them all of these questions, or tease them, then PLEASE do not do so, to a young kid. I understand that a lot of these occurrences were done in good faith, but in their pursuit of trying to be funny, it actually made for one awkward experience and conversation for us all.
“What happens when you take the bucket away from him?”
I don’t. I have never taken Apollo’s bucket away from him – not even as a punishment for making “Red Choices”. Why? Because, Apollo processes information differently than neuro-typical children, and if I took his Gecko Bucket away from something completely unrelated to his bucket, then that would not benefit the situation or fix the behavior, but instead trigger a meltdown. Now, if he threw his bucket at me, or made a red choice with his bucket, that would be a different story, but he has yet to make any red choices with his bucket. Apollo’s bucket is sacred to him, and provides him with the most comfort and emotional stability next to his “Black Blanket” – as he calls his favorite super plush blanket.
While I have not taken his bucket away, I moved it once while cleaning. When Apollo saw his bucket was gone, it instantly triggered a severe meltdown. Even after I returned his bucket to him, he was so upset by this point, that it took him a long while to calm down. Has anyone seen the TV show “Hoarders”, and seen how upset and dysregulated some of the individuals get when other people touch their stuff without permission? Apollo’s like that, but x 1,000. You do not touch his bucket or his black blanket without permission; if you do, be prepared for a severe meltdown.
So what do we do?
We parents allow him to carry around his bucket in public and deal with any judgement thrown at us, and try our best to navigate each situation as it comes to us; that’s all we can do to ensure we have the best possible experience.
Do any parents out there have children that have sacred treasures that they carry with them everywhere? I’d love to hear about your experiences!