Sensory Tools That Help
While phone applications and computer programs have helped therapists tremendously over the years, there is still nothing quite like a hand-held object that helps the patient. Sensory tools, often disguised as toys, are a huge help to special needs children. They help develop motor skills, improve vocabulary skills, hone social skills, and spark creativity in the challenged child. Here are some sensory tools and toys that can help the therapist and the patient!
The Fidget Cube
All over the internet, people are talking about the Fidget Cube. If you have somehow missed hearing about it, the Fidget Cube is a small handheld cube featuring different sensory tools that help those that fidget or need de-stressing. The cube features assorted colors and different tools such as the slide, the click, the spin wheel, the safe cracker, the worry stone, and the spin wheel. It certainly can help people who are suffering from stress and keep fidgeting to a manageable state. How does it help challenged children? To begin with, it engages and enhances their ability to focus on something. They may get distracted initially by all the different options but ultimately there will be one that is their favorite. Additionally, having the children describe what they are doing, the object itself, and how they are feeling are excellent ways to engage the challenged into unfamiliar territory.
The Tennis Ball Chair
Going to school as a special needs child can be nothing short of a hellish experience. Functioning at a different level than “normal” children is hard and trying to find ways to make things easier on them is often a challenge. However, Amy Maplethorpe, a speech pathologist at Raymond Ellis Elementary School, created some chairs that helped her students in big ways. Her students suffered in the traditional chairs at the school. She took the time to cut tennis balls in half and hot glue them over the seat and back. She also took the extra step of covering the legs of the chair in softer cloth. She said the transition was instantaneous, and she is sharing her discovery at schools across the nation. Why it works so well is due to the change in comfort level. As an adult, I find the chairs in the elementary schools to be hard and uncomfortable. For a special needs child, it becomes an issue that causes meltdowns and undue stress in trying to learn. Now, because of Amy’s ingenuity, they can feel comfortable in their environment and open themselves up to learning.
Sometimes we just need to “think outside the box” to find that special tool that can help our special children. When therapists and teachers take something mundane and change it just a little, it can be just what was needed!