It's taken an awful long time to get to a place I can write this blog post. Even now I'm assuring myself that everything is OK and that these techniques are a good substitute.
You see my child, Ethan, cannot do a lot by himself if anything really. He doesn't have the strength or muscles to hold himself in any position without equipment.
Ethan is now 9 and it's taken me this long to realise that he doesn't constantly need to be doing things or activities. He needs to have down time too and learn to explore the world around him in his own way. Having two other children means I can't give Ethan constant activities and there needs to be times where he needs to explore on his own as well.
There is a huge guilt that when I use the activities I'm going to share with you that I should be doing more in those moments but in reality in the moments I'm ensuring Ethan has a cooked meal full of nutrients that he needs to stay well or I'm washing and drying his clothes, booking appointments, cleaning the floor so we can love his chair through or attending to my basic needs so that I can continue to care for him.
These activities provide Ethan with essential down time and skills he needs to acquire but through other means and not me.
We set up a light show with lights on the ceiling, fibre optics to touch or scarves and bells on his hands. We use flashing toys placed around the room to keep him focusing. This gives him the chance to track and fixate on lights and use touch to touch the lights.
I also play him classical music at the same time which is calming for the brain.
Audio stories are a great way for Ethan to practice listening and hearing to spoken language. This can be teamed with objects relating to the story either around him to fixate on or on his tray to touch.
We tie scarves or material around Ethans hands. He is unable to hold anything for more than a few seconds, so this allows him to not drop the object. Scarves and material are different textures for touch awareness. Having things in his hands encourages him to move his arms around and follow his hands showing cause and effect. Tangle toys are also great for this or pipe cleaners which bend easily.
If Ethan is having a kick on the floor, I put toys near his feet. Anything that makes a noise when kicked is great. The bell chime about is great for this but any toys that can be activated by touch will work. Great for working on cause and effect even if the movements weren't purposeful.
Hanging mobiles are great hanging from the ceiling hoist track if you have one or curtain pole. These can be bright and stimulating. Ethan loves to move his arms in amongst the mobile. We have a mobile with ribbons hanging all around it but you can use anything you have. Maybe even attach it onto a washing sock holder!