Tuesday, 5 September 2017

What are age appropriate toys when you have Special Needs?

This is my almost 30 year old step daughter, she has multiple special needs and physical difficulties. She does not communicate verbally or with PECS (Picture Exchange). She does not respond well to hand over hand activities, anything and everything will be put in her mouth, sand gets rubbed in her eyes, paint would be smeared around, play dough eaten and water trays would be emptied all over her and she really does not cooperate with a clean up process.

She needs 24/7 supervision and full support to do everything. Dressing, feeding, going to bed, getting up, toileting, finances etc.

She lives in a care home with one other woman and full time care staff, she attends physio, horse riding, swimming. Has visits from the Occupational Therapist, has trips into town for cake and lunch, enjoys visits to the supermarket, walks and trips out in the car.

A full and busy life, but there is lots of time when she is in her home, she has access to a sensory room, but due to their being a ridge to access and another service user and often only 1 staff member she rarely uses it and if the staff member is in the kitchen managing paper work or cooking she will stand and watch, but once they have to do something else, she wanders back to her room, where she favours and just sits for hours on her bed.

The staff are unable to restrict access to her room, they're also unable to encourage/make her stay in the sensory room. They are also unable to lift her off the floor or move her manually into another room.

She receives a lot of 1:1 time and care, but does not entertain herself, she will follow you from room to room and if you're busy will just wander off back to her room, she doesn't seek out activities or toys, you have to keep her supplied with items that light up, make a noise and have a sensory feel to them. They have to be indestructible, sturdy, but not too sturdy that they won't hurt you when after she's put it in her mouth she throws them across the room.

She doesn't stack things, sort things, work out that if she pushes a button, there's a reaction, she just shakes it, tastes it and lobs it.


This makes it difficult to find things that she can entertain herself with. She has access to a ball pool, a water filled floor mattress, there are fibre optics in the room and cushions and soft toys. I introduced a CD player to the room on the weekend and suggested furniture was moved and that the staff member did their paperwork in the room to encourage her and the other service user to stay in the room, which they did.

I then went out shopping for some new toys. I was faced with a limited selection. I tried several shops, too many toys were unsuitable, small parts, too sturdy and likely to cause others damage, too many small parts that could be swallowed, too flimsy and could be ripped apart.
I usually end up buying her baby rattles and musical instruments, but they're made from plastic or wood and after being biffed several times, which really hurts, I'm always on the look out for alternatives.

It would be nice to buy toys for her that were a bit more age appropriate, toys that weren't manufactured for babies or had peppa pig or paw patrol on them, regardless of the fact that doesn't register with her anyway.

This is what I've come up with so far from Asda, The Range and The Works. Total spent £18. I'm still looking out for some stretchy toys, handheld stress balls, solid enough not to hurt anyone, but not too soft to be bitten into and more toys that light up or make a noise when shaken, so if you know where I can get these from, please let me know.

18 comments:

  1. I have similar difficulties finding toys for my daughter and also hate that there are no more grown up looking versions of baby toys for adults who are still interested in them

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    1. just brightly coloured rather than having to have characters on them would do

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  2. I'm sure you've seen this site - but in case you haven't I'll leave a link. The problem with anyone in a minority is that companies don't spend the money on ranges that won't have mass market appeal - I do think though that in 2017 it is something that is being looked at more so maybe it will improve. http://www.specialneedstoys.com

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    1. I've checked this site out before it contains toys that are more suited for either just watching or interacting with, our daughter does neither

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  3. There certainly does seem to be a gap in the market for this kind of thing. Hopefully by sharing this post someone may be able to point you in the right direction. Thanks for linking up to #TriumphantTales, hope to see you again next week! :)

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    1. still looking for more toys, it's become a mission now

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  4. It sounds like you have exhausted every avenue Suzanne, you would think in this age that someone would have responded to this very obvious need. Thanks for joining us. #TweensTeensBeyond

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    1. i'm spending next week contacting toy manufacturers to see what is out there

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  5. What a really interesting post great read #tweensteensandbeyond

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  6. I had no idea it would be so hard to find her appropriate toys. That selection looks like it would keep her busy though. #pocolo

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    1. it keeps her busy and us retrieving them

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  7. It's seems crazy in this day and age that these kinds of toys aren't accessible - I hope this gap in the market is filled. #TriumpantTales

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  8. You really are incredible aren't you. After everything you have been through, you just keep on helping and giving. I'm amazed to hear that such a valuable resource is missing from the market. I'm sure you will have this sorted in no time but would an adult special needs school or unit be able to help? Thanks for joining #tweensteensbeyond

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    1. the big problem is that everything is aimed at adults/kids being able to do things, our daughter has no interest in matching, sharing, sorting and hand over hand activities to her is viewed as restraint

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  9. You are always so proactive! I'm so glad to see you are still rising to the challenge after all that you have had to deal with. As always, this is a very important post but I'm afraid I can't offer any help. It's such a shame that there is no supplier that specialises in it. Once you have solved the problem I'm sure there will be loads of people interested in the results. Thank you so much for coming back to #TweensTeensBeyond after the summer break! :)

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    1. unfortunately life goes on and i can't package things away, my time in the UK is limited it's not like i can pop back and forth every weekend to sort things out sadly

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