No, they don’t. Special boys need parents who are willing to do the work.
What a lovely Christmas we had this year. It was our first Christmas with our baby girl, our kids were spoiled rotten by our family members, and I ate about 35 Italian cookies.
Alright, enough about me.
I want to talk about toys.
Have you ever noticed that eventually, once you learn enough about the different early intervention therapies that every toy can be a therapy toy? I have been watching these sessions for two years now. I have learned so much valuable information about childhood development, and it has interested me so much.
As my kids were opening presents on Christmas morning, I kept finding myself saying the same thing over and over.
“Oh that’s a therapy toy.”
“Oh we use that one in speech.”
“Yay, the OT brings over something just like that!”
After the third time I said it I was thinking about the lessons I have already learned about being a parent to someone with Down Syndrome. There is not much different about it! I am seeing that connection now with the toys that Nicholas got for Christmas.
My in-laws got Nicholas the “cozy coupe” and my first thought was “oh perfect, he can practice moving around using his feet just like he does on the little indoor scooter in therapy.
His uncle got him this awesome tractor with farm animals, which is really similar to a toy he uses in speech therapy to practice words like go, back up, turn, and the names for all of the animals (and their sounds). In my mind I was planning out how I was going to use it with him to practice those words on non-therapy days.
The reason I am telling you all this and linking these things to amazon is because if you have the knowledge about OT, PT, Speech and special education, you can work with your child using any toy. You don’t need to buy expensive toys that claim to be “for kids with special needs.”
When the early intervention people come to your house, try not to treat it as a “break” from the daily grind of parenting. Don’t go and unload the dishwasher or switch the laundry.
Watch the session closely.
Look at the techniques they are using. Ask a lot of questions. Let them assign you some homework. If you can recreate these motions, you can help your kiddo succeed! The worst that can happen is that you are spending some quality time with your child.
Take a lot of videos! you can refer back to them and see what the therapist did and hoe they reacted to certain situations.
This is just a ball that you can get from anywhere! It’s linked below for under 8 bucks but I am sure Walmart has it for less!
I had our awesome PT explain this to me, and tell me the benefits of the exercise to make sure that I was doing it right. Now he loves to kick the ball around the house with us. We use it to walk and kick the ball and then chase after the ball. It makes it fun for Nicholas to practice walking! It’s hard work, so it has to be fun. Imagine if leg day at the gym were everyday. I would hate that, but we expect Nicholas to do it. He might as well have some fun!
And then of course, we have the beloved stacking rings.
If you have a child in early intervention you are probably no stranger to the stacking rings. They all bring the same set over here. It is still to this day Nicholas’ favorite toy. They are 5 dollars on Amazon and have given us two years of fun. The point I want to make here is that since having a child with special needs is expensive, don’t add insult to injury by thinking you need these special toys to promote certain developmental skills.
All you need is the drive to learn. If you learn as much as you can from the therapists that come to your home, anything can be a “therapy toy” as long as you are working toward a specific skill.
One of my favorite parts about being Nicholas’ mom is celebrating his successes with him. He absolutely loves showing off his new skills and celebrating them. Watching him know that he did something good and start clapping or himself is my favorite! The more we practice together, the more I get to see my proud boy smile.
So, put in the work, save your money for experiences, and don’t let anyone tell you that a boy with Down Syndrome can only use certain toys to learn.
I hope you all had an amazing Christmas!
P.S. You can click any of the photos of the toys to purchase them on amazon. Those are three of Nicholas’ favorites that we use to practice skills with him.