If you have a child with low hand function, non-verbal and non-mobile, where do you find toys for them?
Everything we find that Charlie has the capacity to play with is in the Fisher Price section of baby and toddler toys. Bright colours, lights, music – those are all well and good, but the context is always so babyish.
It’s a farmer and his cartoonish animals on a roundabout, or a simple sensory cube with mirrored sides and primary-coloured knobs to press, twist, and switch.
We long for the all-too-rare sighting of something made for older girls that might not exclude Charlie.
Something musical, she loves music.
No small fiddly buttons, though – big ones are needed.
But the colours need not come straight from the Play School set – pinks and purples would please our little Princess, but anything would do.
We got the message that she’s keen for some older playthings over the weekend. Daddy lifted the bonnet on his car to change a headlamp, and Charlie and I were standing nearby.
She was immediately drawn to the engine bay, so we approached. When we got close enough, she reached out and pulled her weight right off of my legs (very rare) and started to touch everything within reach.
She explored caps and leads and hoses for a good ten minutes with a huge grin on her face until her little legs started to shake and I had to take her down from there.
How wonderful it was to see her so interested and really pushing herself physically to be able to have a better look!
How amazing to see the elation on her face as she felt her way around, patting and prodding plastic, rubber, and metal.
What a lovely experience for her big sister, who was excited to stand beside her and join the game. And what a great reminder for us that she’s ready for some toys that are aimed at children, not toddlers.
The only trouble is… where are they all?
Is it really necessary that we go looking for disability-specific companies and pay three times the price of anything in our local toy shop?
I’d love to hear some of the creative solutions other families employ when buying or modifying toys and games.
With Christmas coming, the inevitable question from family and friends is on its way: ‘What can we buy Charlie for Christmas?’
This year, I’d love to have some answers.