Thursday, 19 March 2015

A Side of Autism: Thinking Outside The Box

As you may or may not know - kids with autism can be hard to entertain!
What seems to work great for a day or two (or a minute or 5) can change in a blink of an eye!  And that's flipping frustrating for us because we have 2 other kids that need attention as well.  So does our dishes...and laundry...and the list goes on.

Anyway, as of recently, the V-Man seems borderline OBSESSED with fitting things inside something else and removing it.
Some examples?
  • Taking my bus card and putting it in and taking it out of my coat pocket as we wait for the bus. (I don't find this annoying at all as his wait-time for the bus has GREATLY increased from 5 minutes to nearly 15 if need be!)
  • Ripping boxes.
  • Climbing non-stop for food and emptying boxes - usually containing small messy dry goods like rice, flour, oatmeal or couscous.
  • Emptying the grocery bags.
  • Putting things in our shoes/boots (of course we discover this when we're in a rush to leave!)
  • Emptying my wallet.
  • Emptying my backpack (usually on the hunt for ibuprofen because the packets are interesting or my inhaler).
I've been thinking of looking for a toy where he can remove pieces and stuff them into something (i.e. Fisher Price piggy bank) but at the same time don't want a ton of extra pieces missing or going under the sofa.

I then had the idea (and this is where I'm slightly embarrassed but whatever - you do what you have to do!) to find one of those dog-training toys/puzzles.  Yeah - I said it.  A dog-training puzzle where the dog has to stuff back birds into a tree or something like that.  I know I've seen them before but based on my quick trip to the local pet supplies store - they don't have them anymore.

But what they did have was this. It's called "Trixie": Poker Box 1 and it contains four boxes with 4 different ways to open them.  The aim for a dog - is to figure out where the treat is (there's a little hole on each lid or top) and figure out how the heck to get it out.

"Oh my frig - she went and got her kid a dog toy.  Is he a dog or is he a human child?!"

Settle down - I'm still explaining why I did this.

So my reasons for buying dog toys are:
  1. Durability:  Sure - V-Man can bite and chew, seek and destroy...pull and rip - but with the strength of a dog?  Not yet.  (Still rocking the baby teeth currently!)
    1. And yes, V-Man has had dog toys for his teething days...
  2. Educational:  Sure he won't be necessarily sniffing where the hidden cracker or small toy or wooden ring (or whatever he likes to play with at the time) is - but he'll certainly be using his marbles to figure out:
    1. How to open the containers and eventually how to close them too.
    2. How to "ask" using PECS (Picture Exchange Communication System) to play with this puzzle or to open a box.
    3. Cause and effect.
  3. Interesting:  With a toy puzzle like this - we can make it different regularly (or however often) by simply adding new things in the boxes he can discover.
  4. Excellent for therapy:  V-Man gets home an hour before the other two kids do.  So with that hour a day (usually with me) - I'm going to push him as hard as he's willing (and a bit beyond as he learns what this puzzle is for) - and hope to communicate a variety of things with this one puzzle box toy.  He's currently taking speech and occupational therapy and I truly think this toy can do wonders for his finer motor skills and concentration.
Things I've used before that do (or didn't) work for us, but were budget friendly:
  1. Pop bottles - filled with water and a bit of food colouring.
    1. Pop bottles filled with sand or rocks so he can rattle them about.
  2. Listerine bottles filled with beads or rocks or clothes pins (ANYTHING)- shockingly, he can't open the child-safety cap.
  3. Wooden ring (found in craft supply store) - still uses this and flips it around his fingers.
  4. Tin jars with removable lids (think small scented candles).
  5. Cereal boxes - to rip up.
  6. Empty envelopes - the kind bills come in.  Also for ripping up.
  7. DVD cases - but he has broken so many...
BIMU REVIEW: Excellent product!! Easy to move the boxes around, lock in place and wash.

So other parents - don't be ashamed!  Don't be bothered by others' opinions!  They're not the ones who have to live, love and handle your child's attitude/mood swings/conditions day and night!
Do what works for YOU and your Autistic CHAMP!  
This is a lesson I'm still overcoming myself when in public and there are meltdowns! :)
And your child doesn't have to have autism to NEED or HAVE this kind of toy!  If it's fun and within your budget -why not?

Happy playing,

PS: When it comes to the sturdiness of dog toys and depending on your child's strength: always supervise your child when they're playing with something they can throw or lift/drop.  Be sure to have excellent home insurance on your more valuable items just in case.

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