I’ve been extremely open and honest about my daughter and her disability. That matters to me because although it’s mentally, physically and emotionally exhausting, my fellow bloggers should have access to the whole truth. It’s not always rough, my daughter has proved to be very unpredictable. She has been getting over a 5-day flu bug, and when she is sick, she is extremely aggressive towards herself and others. Which is understandable, she can’t tell me where it hurts with her words, so she uses her head against my head and she bites her fingers. It breaks my heart to see her so miserable and distressed, but it pays off completely to have days like today. She finally feels better, and she is her usual bubbly, loud and silly self. She woke up singing and has said “love you” 2 times today! She has finally had the energy to jump on her little tramp and play her kiddo piano. So, it has been worth staying up all night the last 4 days, rocking her in the chair, and keeping damp cloths on her forehead only when she falls asleep. (She doesn’t like the feeling of it when she’s awake.) Anyways, my husband and I spent a lot of time thinking of fun and educational toys for our daughter from “Santa” and family, and because of her being blind, delayed, non-verbal with severe sensory issues, we came to a frustrating point where we felt there were hardly any gifts out there we could not only afford, but could benefit her in some way.
I have always been extremely envious of LeapFrog and the education and fun other children have while using LeapFrog. For obvious reasons, my husband assured me buying a LeapFrog would be a waste of money for us, because Aubree wouldn’t ever use it, because it is mostly visual fun. But I figured that if the “book” can talk back to her when she touches a word, picture or shape, then we could work with that! If you have the time and resources, you can even Braille the little educational books, as I am going to do, by renting a Braille typewriter from my daughter’s school. (Just make sure you have clear sticky paper.) I found LeapFrog on sale for $29 at Wal-Mart, and I got 3 “books” on clearance for $5 each. It was a great idea, (I hope) and even if your child doesn’t seem interested in the mysterious talking book, then try using it yourself with your child in your lap, and gradually introducing it more and more at certain times a day. LeapFrog allows so many educational options and especially for a delayed child, it’s very important to learn, allow and help them grow their big imagination.
Another gift option you can consider is musical toys we found on Amazon. Aubree is very intrigued by music, and I have a feeling we will be paying for music lessons when she’s older. Music is on 24-7 in our house, and I have no problem with that. The brand Munchkins has a Mozart Magic Cube that was very inexpensive and allows all kinds of fun learning for your kiddo. If this doesn’t seem like a fit for your kiddo, there are millions of other music inspired toys and I know you will find the perfect one for your child, that will encourage sensory fun and learning. It has been said that music plays a vital part in helping to increase motor skills, cognitive skills help to improve self-esteem and control, it can help increase the ability to identify and communicate feelings appropriately. Research shows that music therapy has been effective in reducing pain and anxiety, it can strengthen the immune system and promote relaxation. Music has been used as a therapeutic tool for over 30,000 years. So I strongly encourage you to think outside the box, and consider all kinds of options for musical therapy and play to help your child.
Another amazing resource I recently found online, is a site called Songsforteaching.com, songs for teaching has a ton of musical topics to make everyday education into a fun, silly and catchy song. If you have a child that is so musically inspired like Aubree is, then this is really cool. You go to the site, click on whatever topic or subject you think will benefit your kid, and at least 15 or more songs pop up, you can play the songs directly on your phone or computer. They even have a radio app you can download and play a variety of each subject throughout the day. I’ve tried to make educational music apart of our routine to encourage Aubree talking more. It’s worth checking out for sure.
Hammock Swing/Sling, if you haven’t already explored this for a child with sensory issues, I strongly suggest trying it. We found a “sitting hammock” on Amazon for around 90$ (including the stand) and Aubree is obsessed with it. It promotes relaxation, and is one of the only things we turn to when she is having an “episode.” We allow her to curl up in a hammock with a warm bottle, and turn on Genote, or the piano guys and softly rock her. We even use this for bedtime routine and although it’s a bit on the pricier side, you can find very inexpensive ones as well. I would recommend every family raising a child with multiple disabilities and sensory issues to try this out. We first used a “raindrop” swing with Aubree’s OT and we (and she) fell in love with it.
Kinetic Sand, Water Beads & Zuru Tangle we found for some stocking stuffers. As a mother of a beautiful but cautious little girl, these three simple things can offer a new world with encouraging play with hands. My daughter plays musical toys with her hands no problem, but when it comes to something a little unfamiliar, even food, she is not a happy camper. So when I see things that will help her use her hands and might seem interesting, I have to try it. I encourage you to do the same. I found she is not a fan of playdoh, but she does like water beads. So these other “stocking stuffers” might be added to the LIKE list. 🙂 I also think silly putty is a good thing to try, and we have thrown that in her stocking as well.
Colouring was a little challenging for me to get used to. We had to come up with a lot of different ways Aubree could enjoy colouring if she wanted. So if your child has similar disabilities, (blindness) then I’ll share a couple things with you that we found were helpful. A teacher we had a program called Early Intervention brought over a board with a screen (from a house window, to keep bugs out) taped down tightly to it. We had Aubree put a blank piece of paper over the screen/board and gave her a “jumbo” crayon and the noise it makes was quite entertaining to her. Something else to try is the little images with black fuzzy felt around the image, so if your child is blind or has visual impairments, this will be a fun activity to use your hands and senses to “stay in the lines” and help them use their imagination to identify what the image is. You can get all kinds of fun pictures online, different animals, shapes, favourite characters on T.V., etc.
Wellie Wisher’s American Girl Doll, $60, or any doll for that matter. And if your child is willing to play with the doll, that’s great. We were advised by a doctor at our local Developmental Center, that using a doll as a tactile symbol for Aubree, might help make daily activities easier to anticipate for Aubree. If your child has any of the same struggles with self-care, feeding self, or even sticking to a set routine, then using the doll as a tool and helping guide your child throughout the day, might make the anxiety of a routine in general, easier. For example, “Aubree, we’re going to brush Sophia’s (doll) hair and teeth. Will you help me get her ready?” And then let Aubree know that now Sophia is ready, it’s time to get her ready. It might feel weird at first for both your child and you, but if you notice your child easing up when it comes time for their turn in daily routine, then why not use this tactile symbol?
I have struggled daily at times being strong with the fact that my daughter is different, and that’s OK. A few years ago, on her first and second Christmas, it was a constant reminder for me that we would always have to plan things differently. Our lives would never be what the average person could say was “normal.” But when life is a little easier for them, it gets a little easier for you too. Toys and education are apart of every little kids life! I hope this post has given you some ideas on some different and fun toys for this Holiday. I love all my fellow readers, and if any other families of special needs children have any other toys or ideas to add to the list, please comment below. You wouldn’t believe how frustrating it is trying to find whats right for your child, and what’s not. So let’s help one another out!! 🙂
If you haven’t heard of a program called Santa’s Little Hackers, I suggest you check them out!! Santas Little Hackers is a seasonal toy drive that takes toys, adapts them, makes little modifications to the electronics of toys, and gives them away to help disabled children play independently. You can find more information about them here-
I feel responsible for letting you know if you think your child could benefit from an “adapted toy” then go to the website, and fill out the toy registration for Christmas 2018. It is sadly closed this year. But it is a wonderful program!