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It takes rare gifts, talents and rare personalities to be real pathfinders in this work. There are no royal roads. It is all a problem of being true to ones natures and opportunities. And to teach others to do the same with themselves. -Adolf Meyer, OTR/L     I will walk the road however hard it is, because only on the road can you see that yesterday lies behind you and tomorrow waits on the path ahead. The road measures life in distance. The further you travel, the longer you live. -Ma Jian     It is not the way you fall, it's how you get up. -Michele Kwan     It takes courage to show your dreams to someone else. -Erma Bombeck     Just when the caterpillar thought its world was over, it turned into a butterfly. -Anonymous     Thank you to all my friends. -Christina Bellini-Zaher

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Child Development & Toys

There are many toys and games that can help your child with their development. Here, we express some ways your child can develop and also tell you about a great toy that can be used with children.

Through physical activity

During the early years, a child’s movement becomes more stable and coordinated as they learn what their own body can do. Later on, these movements become more complex and children will start using their bodies during play. Toys in this area would be ones that encourage building, stacking, pulling, kicking, jumping and throwing.

Through shared relationships

Babies are forming relationships with others from birth. These relationships will deepen and strengthen as they grow. They will soon learn to have relationships outside of their parents and siblings and start having friends and relationships from outside places. Games that will help with this type of development are group games, stuffed animals, puppets, instruments and sports.

Through cognitive play

From birth to adulthood, children will learn to solve problems, understand concepts, and recognize cause-and-effect relationships. If a baby plays with a mobile and realizes it moves when they touch it, they will slowly start to learn cause and effect. Toys that help in this development are books, puzzles, games, shape sorters, and especially toys and games that are colorful and come in different sizes.

Below is a toy that Kim Marino, speech pathologist and author of the blog thespeechmama.com, typically has in her therapy bag and why she thinks it’s a great toy for your child to have.

Crayola Beginnings Baby Drop and See

This toy is for children ages nine months and up and I have to say that the children I see — even the ones two-and-a-half and three years of age — love to play with it! It comes with three different balls (red, orange and blue) and it is a cause-and-effect toy. First, the child puts the ball into the top opening. Next, she has to push the sun down to make the ball roll towards the bird. Then she has to push the bird down and the ball rolls towards the cat. Finally, she has to pull down on the cat (this requires a little assistance even for the two-and-a-half-year olds) and the ball rolls out of the toy, after which, the child hears, “Ta-Da-Ta-Doodle!”

I personally like this toy when working on following simple directives. You can tie the action with your language; this is something I continually talk about. Tying your words with your action will help your little one to understand language better, so when I play the game with a little one, I hand her one of the balls, identify the color (of course) and ask her to put the ball in. If she cannot understand this direction, I say “ball in” as I help her put the ball in the opening at the top of the toy.

After the ball is in the toy, I say, “Push Sun.” Now, most of the little ones who are having difficulty in the understanding of language cannot understand this direction, so, hand over hand, I help her push the sun. Now the ball rolls towards the bird. Next, I ask her to push the bird (if she can’t do it by herself, I help her). Hand over hand, we push down on the bird. Finally, I say, “Pull down cat” (as I said, this one is the most difficult, but eventually, she will understand the direction).

When playing with this toy, I also like to address first, next and last. First, you push the sun; next, you push the bird and, last, pull down the cat. Most importantly, though, I like to address first and next with the little ones who are having difficulty in understanding of language: I know I have written about this before in previous posts, but what is so amazing is that ONCE your little one actually understands that she has to do something FIRST — and then NEXT — she will get the desired object or choice. She will then begin to understand taking turns, transitions and being more adaptable and flexible in a situation, deal with her frustrations better and learn that, even if she is unable to verbalize her desire and even if understanding of language is challenging, she will get what she wants, but, FIRST, she must complete something else.

Some of the little ones want the reward of playing with a favorite game — a free-play activity that places fewer language demands — so I can use this as the reward. However, the activity I am choosing (during the therapy session) will place slightly more demands upon the little one; however, once she realizes that FIRST she completes the puzzle and NEXT we engage in a free-play activity, she will then have an easier time with transitions, in dealing with her frustrations and being more adaptable in certain situations. You would be amazed at how these simple words carry over into the home environment as well.

 
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Founded by Christina Bellini-Zaher, MS, OTR/L, The Therapy Center for Children is a "placement agency" composed of licensed and experienced pediatric physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech therapists and special educators.

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