How to use your laundry basket for strengthening, body awareness and fun

A simple laundry basket can be used as a surface for an older child to sit on, a working surface for a toddler to kneel or as a place to seat a baby who may need a little extra help with trunk support in sitting.  With a little bit of imagination, a laundry basket can double as a seat, a train, a short table, or a large container, to fill, empty, push, or climb.  Here are some ideas If you have a simple laundry basket at home.

5 ways to use a laundry basket for little ones who can pull to stand:

Gross Motor

  • Climb in and out
  • Climb on and off…..
  • Kneel beside it and knee walk

Fine Motor

  • Place clothes items in and out
  • Turn the laundry basket over and enjoy playing the drums
  • String a scarf through the holes


  • Count and match socks
  • Identify and sort clothes of the same colors….
  • Request a specific article of clothing from the pile

Body Awareness

  • Give your sibling a ride (or place a bunch of cans to add some weight, cover them with clothes)
  • Cover your little one with clothes and play peek a boo…
  • Hide under the basket, role up into a tight ball and take 3 deep breaths

Core control

  • Play eye spy, put on music and collect several items around the house.
  • Use the laundry basket as part of an indoor obstacle course…
  • Sit on top of the basket and reach down across midline to pick up pieces in a game that contains many different pieces.

When a child pushes or pulls a toy, this provides sensory feedback to their body.  Sensory feedback is important because it’s vital to know where one’s body is in space This will activate muscles to move around that space.  The more resistive the activity, the more alert the brain becomes and thus, the more muscles are activated.  A simple laundry basket can help a child build motor coordination, muscle strength, cognition, mobility, and balance. You just need a little bit of imagination.  You can even use a laundry basket as part of an indoor obstacle course. How many games can you think of using a laundry basket?

Episode 5: Knowing Your Limits

In this episode we have a candid discussion about learning how to know our limits and set our limits before we implode or explode! Owning and re-evaluating our new reality and adjusting accordingly. Spoiler alert: You may end up happier and more productive!

See below links to their website & podcast:

Don’t Get Me Started on the Word “Just”

“I see your son doesn’t walk. Oh, he’ll grow out of that! Just keep him practicing, he’ll get there!”

“You don’t need to feed him, he’s old enough to do it himself. Just give him the spoon, he’ll figure it out.”

“If you keep doing things for him, he’ll never learn. Just let him fail at things, and he will learn to adapt.”

Can you hear my frustrated sigh through the screen?

We’ve all been here, confronted with a well-meaning stranger (or family member) who just wants to give their best piece of parenting advice to us. Sometimes you can see them coming from a mile away. At a shop, they lock eyes with you, give a friendly smile and, for some reason, make a beeline for you and your additional needs child. You brace yourself, hoping they will say something nice but not advisory. If you’re like me, that hope is often dashed.

Now, I try to be a measured person. I try very hard to see the motivation behind someone’s actions and respond accordingly. But I confess, when I receive unsolicited advice about my son, my patience grows very thin, very quickly.

If only the advice we are given was simple for my son to achieve. Or easy to accomplish. Or relevant. Or… you get the idea.

Why does it bother me so much?

The comments of these well-meaning people, puts a dampener on the time our kids put into learning how to do things. It diminishes it to “just” doing this or that. For our kids, there is no just picking up a spoon; or just holding their head up, or just interacting with peers, or just communicating their thoughts. These activities require so much of their patience, physical determination, and emotional stamina. It is insulting to have this leveled to a “just” statement. It’s insulting to my kid, and it’s infuriating to me.

Opinions I value

You know whose opinion I do look back on and see value in? The first neurologist to treat my son when he was a few days old. That neurologist looked at my son’s MRI and observed him over a couple of days. He told me, in no uncertain terms, that my son would have significant developmental delays. Sure, at the time I didn’t know the extent of that term. But I can see now that the doctor’s clear and direct communication of an expectation allowed me to prepare. Had he said, “Your son will just have developmental delays,” the expectation would’ve been entirely different. That simple word – just – implies that challenges can be overcome simply.

Managing expectations

As it stands now, I try not to have expectations of my son’s abilities or his interest in completing tasks. Yes, I do think my son can do tons of things he wants to. He is determined, strong willed, adaptable, and open to learning. He is whip smart and can be quite stubborn about doing things by himself. These are all great qualities, and I celebrate them alongside him daily. He will never be just a kid who should be doing x or y by this age. He is so much more than that.

I never knew how unfair the world was until I had a disabled child

I am not that naive. I have always understood privilege and that not everyone has equal chances in life. But with words such as inclusion, discrimination, and tolerance now in daily use I had thought the world was changing in a positive direction. That was until I had a disabled child. 

The world isn’t fair, and many are still facing inequality almost everywhere they go. The harsh reality is that often those most excluded and discriminated against have little means of effecting change. So, on behalf of my own son, and the millions of other disabled children; young people, and adults I hope this makes those who can affect change to think more and do more. 

Outdoor amenities

One of the first ever things I noticed when my son was small was that outside play opportunities were unfair. Climbing frames, he couldn’t do; swings he didn’t have the body control to safely sit on and even slides too narrow for me to sit him on my knee. At just 9 my own daughter was so disgusted by this fact she wrote to the ‘park builders’ asking why they had forgotten her brother. It begs the question that in 2022, why are we still forgetting about the disabled when investing in play equipment in public that should be accessible for all? It’s not fair.

Lack of accessibility

Then there’s the lack of accessibility. Why are there still buildings in the 21st century without ramp access? Surely ramps benefit everyone and allow equal opportunities for all? Yet stairs are still the norm and lifts still an afterthought. Even in buildings where these are thankfully standard there’s often narrow aisles or blockages preventing people and making steering a wheelchair tricky. It’s not even just those using wheelchairs who have these difficulties too as prams, buggies, even mobility scooters all require ramps, wider access, and adequate working lifts too. Fair access needs to be so much better. 


Now let’s move on to education. The lack of choice in special education and the hoops that are required to jump through to get a place make education for a child like mine very unfair. Often choices aren’t just limited they are non-existent! Opportunities are often limited and travel a necessity. When inclusion in mainstream is an option, the huge lack of funding often makes it impossible and impractical. With schools still viewing children with additional needs as a burden on scarce resources instead of valuable contributors to the school community. They don’t have a fair chance. 

Toilet facilities

Now onto a taboo that few feel able to talk about: personal care needs and toileting. I took my son to a shopping mall recently. While there he required access to the bathrooms. When I found them, I was horrified to find the ladies and gents unlocked with free access, but all the wider disabled cubicles locked! I own a key that should be standard for all such places. But like so many buildings this mall has used different locks meaning I had to find a member of staff on a busy day then walk back to the bathrooms just to access a basic amenity. Something that everyone else takes for granted. How is that fair? Even when we did get access the room was barely suitable for my son’s needs and had clearly been constructed for elderly or less able bodied than physically disabled. I managed because that is what I’ve been used to doing for 13 years now. But it’s not good enough. I shouldn’t have to face this still. It’s not fair to me or my son. 

Life isn’t fair for my son; not fair he can’t speak or read or write. Not fair he has a progressive genetic condition; it’s not fair he’s had to have 16 general anaesthetics in the last few years alone.  Not fair he has so many medical appointments and requires 24-hour care 7 days a week. But his life could be fairer if those with the ability and understanding took more time to do things to make aspects of his life easier and fairer.  Like having toilets that meet the needs of real disabled people, better access to places and an attitude that says people like my son matter. 

Because disabled people do matter, and they deserve to be treated fairly. 

Episode 4: The Silver Lining

Actually, it can be called a gold or even platinum lining! In this uncensored discussion, we share our experiences on how some aspects of having a child with a disability has improved our lives-we swear!

Life Isn’t Always Fair

Have you ever felt like Nobi, the mouse in The Lion King that Scar is holding up about to eat. “Life’s not fair, is it? You see, I shall never be King. And you shall never see the light of another day.

Recently we’ve had a tough time. My Dad got rushed into hospital following a nasty fall. My wife and disabled son contracted COVID, the oven broke, and the car battery died!! This all happened while trying to juggle a hectic work and home schedule. The worst possible timing.

However, like Nobi the mouse, we have lived to see the light of another day. The sun is shining even through the challenges. My wife and son are much better, Dad is stable, and the oven and car battery are both sorted. What about you? Do you have stories of a time when it was all a bit overwhelming? When you silently, or audibly shouted, “It’s not fair!” But survived to tell the tale and fight another day?

Well, I asked a few folks for their stories. And among those there are some that have seen the light at the end of the darkness, while in others, the light has not arrived, yet! Maybe you will see a little of yourself and your family in one of these stories. Or maybe you will be encouraged that it’s not just you that has days like this. We are not alone; we journey through the valleys and the mountaintops together.

You’re not the only one

“Last week of the summer holidays, having survived the whole of the summer, I decided to take both of my kids out for the day. A nine-year-old wheelchair user and a one-year-old. I packed all the bags, tubes, medical kit. Hoisted ‘E’ into his chair and ready to load into the car. Went to put the one-year-old in the car. No car seat. It was in my hubby’s car at work. Cue mummy crying because she needed to get out of the house. We did successfully get out the next day!” Naomi

“Some days just are hard. One that sticks in my mind is arriving home with my son as a baby to find my attic toilet pipe had burst. Water was running through the entire house minus one room! Trying to juggle a starving baby; phone every plumber I could and work out where my insurance details were. I wouldn’t have managed at all that day if my friend hadn’t come to the rescue. She sat with the kids while I got the water stopped and insurance people out etc. But we deal with whatever is thrown at us. And in the end the insurance paid for all new carpets and painting all the walls so it could have been worse. Just had to live in the front room for a couple of months.” Jade

One thing after another..

“One day I took my disabled dad and three-year-old son out for lunch. The car park was on a slope. For some reason my dad thought I was holding the wheelchair when in fact I was searching for my keys. He took off the wheelchair brake and went hurtling down the hill. By some miracle he didn’t hit anything and came to a stop towards the bottom after scraping along the wall of the car park. Luckily, he wasn’t hurt, just a little shaken.

After lunch I took my dad home and collected my six-year-old for a routine immunology appointment at the hospital. Taking both of my children with additional needs is like herding cats. Neither of them has a sense of direction or danger and they constantly distract each other. After the appointment, we had to go to another department for a blood test. My three-year-old had a screaming meltdown because he didn’t want to leave the toys he was playing with. It was more than a tantrum; this was a full-on purple-faced screaming fit and it took me and two nurses to calm him down. In the end, the nurses showed him their ‘magic drawer’ of toys and allowed him to choose one to take home.

When we arrived home, my six-year-old was a mixture of totally hyper and absolutely exhausted as he processed his hospital experience. This manifested itself in him pushing, rolling on and shouting at his brother and I. As he was flinging himself around, he tripped and tumbled head-first down a flight of stairs in the garden. Thankfully he was fine apart from a collection of cuts and bruises.

Sometimes you get to the end of a bad day and think: “At least everyone’s still alive, well done me.” On this day I had to add “Well yes…. just!”” Lizzie

Take a deep breathe

Wow! So many amazing stories. Such a mixture of heartbreak and hope, pain and perseverance, struggle, and security. What seems to be a common theme of these stories is faith. Faith in ourselves; faith in other people that we can trust and who just “get it.

So, next time you are having one of ‘those days’, remember that you are not the only one. You do not travel alone through this life, there are plenty of us that are having one of ‘those days’ too and we are here for you.

With thanks to everyone who contributed.

Episode 3: How To Ask For Help

This episode is dedicated to all of us helpers that sometimes also need to ask for help… If you ever wonder how to help a family with a child with a disability, this episode is for you!

If I could turn back time. What would I tell myself?

If I could time-travel, I would go back to the day you were born. And the days, weeks, and months that followed and tell myself the following five things.

“You were expecting a ‘normal’ child.  Your world has shattered into a million pieces.  You have lost something you never had. But that you were preparing for the past nine months.  You think your life as you know it is over, but I am here to tell you it has only just begun. 

Listen very carefully to these five very important things.

Number One.  You will love this child.  This is a love that has no bounds.  A love that can and will move mountains; will stop you in your tracks; make you breathless; make you stronger, prouder, and braver than you can ever imagine.  This is a love that is borne out of who your child is, not in spite of.  It is a primal, elemental love that cannot be rivalled.

Number Two.  The future is your enemy, and the present is your friend.  Do not think about all the things that might be difficult in the future. All the battles, all the differences and all the challenges.  No one, especially not the professionals, knows what the future holds.  No benefit can be gained from suffering over the what-ifs. In fact, the what-ifs are usually much worse in theory than in reality. 

Number Three.  Other people are ignorant, thoughtless, and thoroughly tactless.  They are also well-meaning, kind, compassionate and unknowingly prejudiced.  They mean no harm; want to alleviate your pain, give you optimism, and contribute to lessening the burden they see you carrying.  Their input will usually involve personal accounts of their cousin/neighbour/best friend’s brother, which they will naively assume help your cause.  They won’t, but you won’t tell them that. Rather, you’ll smile sweetly and change the subject. 

Managing your expectations

Which leads me to Number Four.  For every friend you lose (and there will be scores), there will be a new friend who will change your world.  Some may be travelling a similar path; some may cross your path for other reasons.  You will encounter a whole new team of superheroes. Your child’s advocates – teachers, therapists, care workers.  You will entrust these amazing individuals with your child’s life, and you will cry and celebrate with them.  They will show you a whole new species of supreme humanity.

Number Five.  You will overhaul your expectations of life and parenthood.   You will recode the hard wiring of what you have come to know as happiness, pain and love.  The joys, woes, challenges, celebrations, will be the same as parenting a regular child.  But with greater extremities either way.  And please believe me when I tell you that the intensity and elation of the up-sides will eclipse the downsides.  In this you are truly lucky.  In a life where nothing is assumed or taken for granted, you will treasure and savour Every. Single. Moment.

So please don’t be sad.  Don’t miss out on the first few precious days, weeks, and months, because of misplaced sadness and grief.  Avert those feelings of loss and exchange them for eager anticipation of what is to come.  Know that you will be a good parent, a great parent.  And be kind to your partner.  He or she is travelling their own same but different path, and you are a team.  The BEST team.  And you are the luckiest parents in the world.”