House as therapy toy

Ronan standing at the sink on his toddler stool washing his hands

Ronan washing his hands.

Ronan, like many blind children, needs the world made available to him to encourage normal development. Children at play develop mobility, hand grasp, and cognitive skills. As blind children have a different development path because of how the environment becomes available to them, they often need extra encouragement to engage in development activities.

The various professionals involved in Ronan’s development have set us many tasks throughout the last year: opening and closing lids, twisting off tops, putting a single puzzle piece into a form, or matching textures. Ronan has never been one for playing with toys and he certainly does not like doing dedicated therapy tasks. All the enthusiasm and creativity we can muster is usually not enough to engage Ronan in something he is not interested in doing.

We have instead focused our efforts on using the objects Ronan interacts with on a daily basis to encourage development. Toileting seems to be one of those activities packed full of development movements. It starts with taking the toilet seat off the hook and fitting it into the toilet (1-piece puzzle). He then climbs up onto the toilet and turns around without putting his feet in the toilet (problem solving). After toileting he closes the toilet seat (open and close lids), climbs up onto the toilet (crawling), and flushing the toilet (finger strength, cause and effect). Ronan then goes over to the sink (orientation), climbs up the toddler steps (steps) and turns the tap on to wash his hands (wrist motion).

It is amazing how much just doing everyday tasks can meet the development goals. It is cheap and cheerful, but it does require quite a bit of patience and time! We’ve developed a few other house activities as well. Ronan now turns the radiators on and off (twisting) as he listens for the water starting to move in the pipes. He puts his shoes on and off, opening the straps (fine-motor control) and using both hands to slide the shoe off (hand coordination). He grabs the shoe straps to fasten them as well (pincer grip). Not least there is choosing two of the same shoes (matching)

We despaired for quite some time that we’d never engage Ronan is what he was “supposed” to be learning. We are very pleased the environment + patience has given us everything that we need to encourage healthy development in Ronan.

 

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