Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Christmas Presents For An Autistic Boy

Choosing toys for a child with a disability can be challenging. I think every member of my family has asked me at one point or another what they could buy for the little man this year. He is a difficult case because he simply doesn't take interest in toys - in 'things' - the way that regular kids do. He has specific and narrow interests, and sometimes, even I can't tell whether or not he will take a fancy to a particular thing. I know he likes toys that move, spin, light up and make sounds/music. The problem is, that he might absolutely love some things for a while, but then he quickly loses interest in them; while he likes repetition and patterns, such repetitive toys can become boring for him after a time.

Our SP said something interesting at our last session there. She said that to expand his interests, we need to find what motivates him - what he really likes - and work from there. For example, my boy loves lines Especially when they go in a pattern. He stims on lines. You can often find him staring at the venetians, or going along the bench tops eyeing off the grout lines on the tile splash-backs. Find a toy that incorporates this sort of thing, and you're likely on a winner. Things like a marble race or car race work well, because the items must go along a particular line/route.

Anyway, these are the things my little Mr Boy got this year:

A concertina. He likes this one, but took him a little while to warm to it. Even now, he doesn't play with it very much. My thoughts were (as I mentioned above) that he likes things with lines.... he likes the hose on the vacuum, and he likes Slinky's. A concertina is very similar in that respect, but it also makes music (read: annoying noise hehe). I also felt that the push-pull action would be good for strengthening his hands and working those motor skills.

Gears play set. This was something I chose based on what I know he loves; spinning and moving toys. It was perfect for him, since it had the gears and balls you drop through a little tunnel as well. He loves both those aspects of it. It plays music, and the gears on it are compatible with other toys in the series. It also turned out to be one of his favourites this year.

A foam sword. This one ended up in his stocking because he keeps taking the green one for the iToy and I was afraid it might get broken. He absolutely loved the thing (green sword). The one he got in his stocking has been a fitting substitute. He liked it immediately. He liked to look at it (straight line again) and he liked to hold it. Now perhaps we can squeeze in some role play with it too....?

A small puzzle. Totally not interested. Won't even look at it. So much for gestalt learning! Haha!!

A toy microphone. This I bought on advice of our SP. She has one in the therapy room. The idea is to encourage him to make sounds in it - any sounds at all, it doesn't matter. We want him to realise that he can do things with his mouth and his voice. He likes it when we show him what to do, but all he actually does is lick it, haha!

A handheld spinning light storm. This was supposed to go in his stocking but it didn't get delivered in time. When we brought it out and showed him, he was immediately enchanted by those colourful lights. He took it and held it in his hands and just stared at it with a smile touching the corners of his mouth. But I've noticed he doesn't like to touch it anymore. I think this is because it vibrates when it is on, and he isn't too fond of that.

A wind up bug. Came in the same package as the light storm. I am pretty sure I specified the toys to be for a boy, but they sent me girly ones. Oh well. The butterfly amuses him somewhat, but it doesn't make him laugh like the wind-up frog Miss Jane brought home one day last term.

A groan stick. Same package as the previous two things, so again, didn't get here in time. anyway, it makes a 'neeeeeaaaaaaaawwwwwrrrm' sound when you tip it end to end. He likes it, but isn't obsessed with it or anything. Occasionally I will hear it's distinctive noise around the place when he finds it and fiddles with it for a while.

Plastic trucks. We weren't too sure he would take to these, and to be honest, he doesn't seem interested if left to himself. But when someone else plays with them together with him, he smiles and tries to join in. Very good to see. Great for socialising and showing him 'what to do' with toys.

A magnetic light spinner. This was from one of my sisters. Took him a little while before he actually noticed it, but this also has become a favourite. You can often hear him giggling while the thing spins up and down the wires.

A pop-up tent filled with coloured plastic balls. Unfortunately, little man hasn't shown any interest in this whatsoever. But to be fair, we haven't brought it out very much to allow him exposure.

A lot of clothes. Christmas wouldn't be right if we didn't get a bunch of clothes out of it! He might not get it yet, but I do, and I seriously appreciate it. He is my only boy, so no hand-me-downs here for him. He always needs stuff - growing boy :).

A magnetic drawing board. This was from my mother, and it turned out to be a very timely gift! In our last speechie session, the SP brought out one of those drawing boards when I mentioned that he likes to take pens from my desk and fiddle with them. He took to the thing in an amazing way. I've never seen him that interested in drawing before. He drew scribbly circles, rubbed them out, and drew them again and again. He just loved it. It made me so happy to see this, because he hasn't shown very much interest in drawing until now. Little man loves this toy from his grandma - it has turned out to be one of his favourites.

Fifty Dollars. From my mother, for me to get him something from her. She really struggled with finding something for him, although she hit the nail straight on when she got the drawing board. I am considering putting it towards some character bedding for when he moves to his big bed. Maybe Diego, or In The Night Garden, or Wiggles or something. Make it more inviting for him :).

He still didn't seem to get the whole 'present opening' thing. We'd put him on our laps and try to encourage him to look inside the package. But he'd just keep trying to escape. The only thing that seemed to interest him a tiny bit was ripping the paper off , because it ripped in a strip pattern - lines again. But at least he in enjoying most of his presents. Maybe next year he'll get it.


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