Saturday, August 02, 2014

Mason's Top Ten Toys that Teach for Special Needs and Deafblindness


 "crabby" sunglasses are a curiosity for sure!

Mason has never really been very "into" traditional toys....generally he doesn't like hot wheels or train tables or ride-on toys or stuffed animals. Historically he hasn't liked any toy you have to touch with hands to get a response, whether it's a ball, a play gym, classic wood beads, etc. This makes finding gifts he enjoys somewhat tricky and disappointing at times. (Switch toys are nice, but pricy, and I'm not mechanical enough to make them; even battery interrupters only work on very simple on/off toys).

But lately, we've found some toys that have helped in the most important way possible for him - to inspire him to grasp and hold onto objects in order to actually "play!" This has been the most exciting milestone of all for us because it opens up the world of touch, exploration, social interaction, learning and above all, communication!

So what toys have been so instrumental in overcoming his aversion to touch? In general they have three common characteristics:

  • bright, colorful lights
  • music, sounds and/or vibration
  • lots of movement
If they have all three, even better. Also, he doesn't usually "take" to a toy right away; normally he has to warm up to it after a period of weeks. The exceptions are #1 and #2 below :)

Here are Mason's top ten favorite toys. Most of the first few in the list, he's had since he was a baby; they are super easy to activate (but they don't require much hand contact - he can and did use his elbows, arms or head to turn them on). Still, they held his attention well and taught him cause and effect. The last few toys are more recent finds that have been game-changers for him in the world of touch! They are great for teaching not only cause and affect, but more complex motor planning, grasping/squeezing, holding, pressing/pushing, and above all, motivation for tactile play). Though the links I provided are for Amazon (so you can read reviews and see pics), many can be found for great prices on Craigslist or secondhand toy stores like Once Upon a Child.

#10 Baby Einstein Baby Neptune Ocean Orchestra Musical Toy
#9  Lamaze Soft Chime Garden Musical Toy
#8  V-Tech Baby's Learning Laptop
#7 Playskool Busy Gears
#6 Baby Genius Be-a-Star Sing Along Jukebox
#5 Fisher Price Laugh & Learn Dance and Play Puppy
#4 Hohner Kids Baby Band
#3 O-Ball Rainstick Rattle

#2 Fisher Price Laugh & Learn Learning Basketball Mason LOVES this toy! This is the first "game" type toy he has used, and we are substituting a bright green gel "squoosh" ball we already have, in place of the included basketball because it's easier for him to pick up. It took about two hours just dedicated to letting him practice the movement of squeezing his hand and not letting go of the ball (so his brain could make those motor planning connections) to do the action that he does in the video. After he succeeds once, lots of successful repetition is essential in learning for him. Check out his "skillz" in the video below :)

#1 Disney Bounce Bounce Tigger
Mason adores this guy! He rubs his face on him and puts out his hand to turn him back on when he stops bouncing. After learning the movement of "squeezing" his right hand to pick up the ball in the above basketball toy, he has now learned how to squeeze Tigger's paw purposefully to activate him which is totally new for him! We cannot recommend this toy highly enough...especially when found for $11 on clearance!

There you have it. Ten great toys Mason loves! They could be ideal for other kids with multiple disabilities.

Here are a few more he likes, for good measure...

By the way - we didn't buy all these toys for Mason; they were gifts from various birthdays, Christmases, etc. over the last four years.

Mason's Mix

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