Sunday, November 7, 2010

Toys for Special Needs

I read an interesting article the other day about all those fancy catalogs that say they have toys for special needs. Most of those toys are just regular toys that someone thinks they will be good for someone with special needs.  In fact, some of them have far too many bells and whistles. I know with Allie, too much is often - well, too much. Sometimes the simpler the better.  It really depends on the special need and on the child. So, since you are at this site, you are probably wanting to know specifically what Allie is doing these days and what type of toys she may need. 

I base most of her toys on recommendations from her therapists. For example - from an occupational therapy perspective - Allie needs to strengthen her fingers and hands - so, play dough, coloring, painting are all good things.  Silly putty is also helpful for her.  We will be wanting to get her probably one of those new Crayola coloring/music toys - the faster she colors the faster the music goes. That will probably be great for her.  We will also want her to have a painting easel.  That will help her with standing for longer times as well as painting - which is great for her.  For coloring, one suggestion they had was the old Magna-doodle - or something like that.  I've seen several different types of this type of thing - a coloring pad with the pen attached. This will be used to help Allie practice circles, lines, drawing, over and over again - without a mess and independently. Not a bad idea if I ever heard of one! 

From a physical therapy perspective - we need to get things for Allie to climb on - like an indoor slide. She will need to practice climbing up, sitting on the slide - which requires lots of twisting and turning to get into place - and sliding down (which she LOVES).  We will also get her an outdoor swing/slide set - our aim is before next summer.  The rest of the PT stuff is really stuff we will do with her - get her kneeling, moving toys that require her to walk and push, etc. 

Speech Therapy - this is one we work on all the time while working on all of the other things, of course.  We basically use the toys she has to help her with this - we use flashcards and CDs and DVDs to help as well as pretend toys to get her to verbalize and follow instructions - which is a big situation for us these days.  We are still working to get her to recognize her colors, animals, shapes, etc.  She knows all the words and most many signs for these things, but basically doesn't follow the instruction when we ask her for the Red block or the Frog or something.  But, many of these things we do with her as we use the other toys. We are also thinking that a Mr. Microphone type of toy will help her to hear her voice and practice more.  Not sure where to find those these days, but I'm sure there is a newer similar microphone.

We need to get more large, kid friendly stamp pads to help her with her arts and crafts - okay, hand prints!!  Which I love.  We probably need to get some electronic toys with push buttons that help her learn as well- I've heard the LeapFrog LittleTouch Pad - which is no longer sold, but I seem to be able to find in second hand stores - will be great for Allie. She loves music and responds well to toys and books that require you to push to get the sounds. Again, her push ability is weak at this time and over time she will build up to being able to push any button I'm sure. We also need to increase our bath toys - if we can incorporate any of these skills/learning at that time, that is great. We do use the squishy animals that squirt water to help with her finger strength and I try to get her to follow simple instructions with the animals.

We need to help Allie learn to play with others a bit more, too. This is not uncommon for children with hearing loss. It is important for us to help her be interactive more than she might be if we don't intervene.  There probably aren't toys that will help with that and she isn't going to get a younger sibling, but we do have some play dates set up that should help.

I hope this helps you understand Allie a bit more.  Gifts and toys are not necessary for you to give her. I know many of you just want to understand more and more about what she is doing and how she does it all.  If you do feel the need to buy her something, please know that we believe second hand toys - in good working condition - are wonderful.  Paying full price for the latest fancy gadget is not necessary.

If you have suggestions of toys or things to do with Allie to help her and us with her, please know I am always open to advice.

Have a wonderful holiday season!

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