11-year-old Minnesota boy invents toy inspired by sister with autism

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A Brooklyn Park, Minn. middle schooler is living the dream of being an actual toy maker. 

Alexander Xiong, 11, invented a game called Door Pong at his home. He didn't make it for himself or to be famous -- he made it for his sister.

“We noticed that my autistic sister has trouble playing traditional ping pong,” said Alexander.

Simply hanging the ping pong ball from above, made the game a lot less frustrating.

“Since it was connected to a string, it will always come back no matter where you hit it or how you hit it,” said Alexander.

Alexander’s first prototype had a big frame and the first name for it was Aero Pong. He then entered it in a contest for kid inventors for a toy company called Fat Brain Toys. Out of 160 entries, Aero Pong won. 

“Several things stood out, number one: it was well-thought-out,” said Mark Carson, a co-founder of Fat Brain Toys. “We saw it and thought - simple genius, why hasn't anyone else done that? And we started reading the back story and how it was inspired by his autistic sister.”

Fat Brain Toys modified Aero Pong, attaching it to a doorframe and renaming it Door Pong. They flew Alexander and his family to last year's Toy Fair in New York, where professional toy inventors stopped and took notice.

“As soon as you saw him playing it, you got it and got the appeal of it,” said Carson.

Alexander received a $2,500 scholarship and will receive royalties for as long as Door Pong is sold. Available online and in stores, like ABC Toy Zone in Minnesota, Alexander's dream of helping his sister is something others can enjoy. It also planted a seed for the future.  

“I want to keep creating and be a businessman and hopefully in the future create more stuff, more toys and other stuff for people,” said Alexander.

Fat Brain Toys ran their "Kid-ventor" contest again this summer and they plan to announce the next winner next week.