Having worked with pediatrics for most of my life, working as a speech therapist for 23+ years and raising two of my own children; I have been afforded a unique perspective in understanding the trials and tribulations, the obstacles and rewards, and the questions and answers that are prevalent in raising a child with special needs. With that stated, a prevailing impression that I have found prevalent in my own reflection of my experiences are the comments and considerations raised by families ring a loud bell of familiarity. Let me elaborate...
For me, I have recognized beneficial characteristics needed in raising a child regardless of their developmental beginnings. Albeit, family dynamics do present differently and have varying levels of impact and play an integral role when comparing situations. If we consider that these characteristics reveal themselves as occurring on a spectrum of developmental influence, we can determine that the emphasis of importance is squarely predicated on the needs of a child. The idea is that their value will ebb and flow as needs evolve. In my opinion, raising a child [any child] comes down to a few fundamental aspects: Love, Stability, Structure, Predictability, Support (freedom to explore/grow). With these ideals in mind, we can explore the relative similarities regardless of a child’s “needs”.
Interestingly, it is the last described characteristic where therapists are most often inserting their expertise. Yet, it is through each of the characteristics contributing in concert that a child’s progress is realized. The highest degree of success is typically appreciated through a coordinated partnership on the part of the family and the therapist. If nothing else is understood from this writing, understand that Love, Stability, Structure, Predictability and Support (freedom to explore/grow) are key considerations for positive development for which all children would benefit.
Welcome to our first blog post!
With the holidays right around the corner, our amazing therapists have gotten out their thinking caps to come up with some of the best products and gifts that will stimulate your child's mind and grow their skills. The list covers all ages, interests and abilities. We've included links below, but they can be found all over!
(*we are also not affiliated with any of the links provided.)
And, as always, if you have any specific questions, don't hesitate to ask your therapist.
Let's get started!!
1. The most popular suggestion this year, a weighted blanket! They are helpful with calming anxious feelings and busy bodies. They come in all different weights, the ideal amount is about 10% of body weight.
You can find one here:
2. Next up are Squigz! These fun, colorful little suction cups have endless possibilities!! Great for fine motor skills and creative thinking!
They look like this!
3. Magnatiles are always a hit! Think legos when it comes to building and science of structures, not to mention the laws of physics! All while having fun!
4. Board games are such amazing tools! They teach great social skills like turn taking, sportsmanship and patience...along with critical thinking! Here are some of our favorites for littles (here) and a bit older (here). These brands also have other great options, so make sure you peek around!
5. These next ideas focus more on gross motor skills at an early age. They promote spacial awareness, body positioning and balance. They also can be enjoyed both indoors or outdoors!
6. Do you have a preschooler?? This one is for you! Nothing is better than going back to the basics: blocks, Mr or Mrs. Potato Head, and a sweet little piggy bank.
7. A few more random fun items that promote cause and effect with
Don't Break the Ice, fine motor skills with bingo dobbers and independent play with this race track.
8. Books are the gateway to learning! Your child can learn about rhyming with this classic or about social emotional learning and inclusion in the following books:
I am Enough, Grumpy Monkey, The World Needs More Purple People, The Boy with Big Big Feelings, I am Human, Strictly No Elephants and the Big Umbrella. For older kids, Wonder is a great read and also was made into a movie.
9. Memberships are a wonderful way to cut back on "stuff" if that is more your goal. Think of children's museums near you, zoos, science centers or even trampoline gyms! Subscriptions are also the gift that keeps on giving...... magazines come in all topics and grade levels. And don't forget about crate boxes! They also come in all types of themes and age levels. All very customizable! We like Panda Crate and Kiwi Boxes, which mail out monthly. Check out all the fun options here.
10. Who could forget good ole fashion pretend play?! Some of the best growth comes from using our imaginations! Dressing up, playing house, and feeding baby dolls teaches empathy and life skills, for boys and girls alike! These are a few of our faves: Baby Alive or this little guy, wooden food, and dress up clothes. Endless amounts of fun!!
11. Wanna know what really gets that brain pumping?? PUZZLES!! The beauty of puzzles is the challenge of them grows with the child. From sturdy wood puzzles like these to complex landscapes and interesting patterns, there is something for everyone! You can find them with almost any character or special interest so you can keep their attention until the very end! Nothing teaches patience like a good puzzle!
12. And last, but not least, the big dogs. The equipment that can turn your home into a sensory friendly area and make it feel like being with your OT. Things like swings, mats, and bars keep the body moving and the brain calm. Now, there's no inexpensive way to do this, but some of these are worth it and can be used indoor or outdoor.
Well folks, that's all we've got for you! But remember, these are just jumping off points and suggestions. Shop around for the best fit for your child and price point.
Happy Gift Hunting!!