Last night's/This morning's post also brought to mind another "we have it better than the Typs" post...
Toys are a long term investment.
They are therapy, for fine motor, gross motor, speech, and sensory. They provide input and help us put forth social mores. With toys we can probe their understandings and allow practice for proper interaction. We can learn more about their problem areas, we can learn more of their fears. We can reinforce the behaviors we desire to see more of and discourage those we don't. Some of us take it even further than most and make PECS (Picture Exchange Communications Systems) of varying degrees, social examples, and more.
Because their developmental levels tend to stay in holding patterns for longer, the toys don't tend to pass from interest as quickly. I'll grant you, that there is usually a longer learning curve, that we end up having to teach PLAY, itself, but once learned, that toy stays in rotation for longer.
Elise, in particular, tends to fixate on social interactions on movies. To exclusion of toys, sometimes. But this birthday, I tried to offer toys suggestions and movies, in balance, to those asking for gift ideas...and I am thrilled to tell you, that the toys were the first things to be ripped from their packaging this year. Not so, previously.
She still prefers matching/thematic toys that can be sorted and made into "families" that "match". But the plastic families of dinosaurs are trying out more social interchanges without my input. I know it sounds funny that I have had to teach this to an almost ten year old, but it has been a long road of significant effort.
SO. Toys are important at my house and valued for their examples...I bet you just curse them for being sucked up in the vacuum, doncha? :)