Monday, July 23, 2012

Kids Just Wanna Have Fun

Children seem to have such a limitless imagination and creative process. I find it so amazing just to watch a child and how they interact. I love to listen to the way they express themselves and the somewhat random, but often philosophical comments they make.

Inside every single one of us is creative potential waiting to be nourished and unleashed. Creativity is something which arises from one’s inner self. It can be manifested in so many different and unique ways. It does not depend on the physique of a child. Even a disabled child can be creative because creativity develops from mind and spirit and not from body.

So how then do you nourish creativity and help a child express what their body is sometimes unable to? And as a deeper thought, how do you keep the integrity of their individuality and causation?

Having fun and being creative is part and parcel of being a kid. Making noise, making mess, silly songs and individual expression ....
Now I am by no means a kid at heart in the sense that I hate mess. I like things to be all organised and orderly. Usually when a child comes along, your world, in this way, is turned upside down! Or so I am told :) I wish Noah could destroy the house, draw on the walls and make mud pies in the lounge room. But our situation is so far from that and in learning how to help Noah just "be a kid" I have to in some ways learn to be a kid again myself. I have to use my imagination to help Noah express himself and interact. This is not an easy feat as Noah is our first child and I have not had a hell of a lot of experience with children. Also Noah's physical limitations are a massive challenge.

I am constantly searching for new activities, toys and materials that will be fun for Noah and allow him to participate in what being a kid is all about. Here are some of the things I have tried so far.


With a typical child its usually the simple things that seem to attract their attention. Like everyone knows the story of the child who discards the toy and plays with the box for hours. But with Noah finding the right toy can be like finding a needle in a haystack.

Toys with lots of lights, movement, vibration and sounds seem to be the best. Here are some of Noah's current favourites:

Fisher Price Soothe and Glow Seahorse
Lasts longer than 30 seconds, like his favourite Glow Worm, I like this one a whole lot more :)

Fufris Funny Friends Monkey
So hilarious. Squirms, wriggles, laughs and farts

Fisher Price Puppy Piano
Noah loves the colours that light up


Noahs Ark Toy Library -

This toy library is amazing. They loan out toys, games and equipment for children with special needs. They have a massive range and source many toys from overseas that can be hard to find and quite expensive. And the fact that its called Noah's Ark is a perfect match.

It was here that we first ventured into the awesomeness that is switch adapted toys. A switch adapted toy is basically any toy that has been adapted to work by pressing, tapping or knocking a switch or button. There are many different types of switches depending on the ability of the child. Noah needs a fairly large flat switch that is quite sensitive to touch. Noah has very limited movement in his arms and hands.  It is quite frustrating and saddening to constantly have to play "for" your child. Always moving the toys, pressing the buttons and being the cause of their interaction. With switch adapted toys Noah can learn and practice causing his own effects. Here is a video of Noah with a switch adapted Tickle Me Elmo. (We are so in love with this toy)

Another cool toy we like from Noah's Ark is the Textured Carousel Busy Box. It is quite unique and each switch panel does something different. Lights up, vibrates, beeps, makes the balls pop up, plays a really eery version of the ice cream truck song?? Only the slightest touch sets it off and it sits on a spinning lazy susan base. It is a sensory dream.

DIY Toys

I have come across some awesome toys and play equipment that imaginative and savy parents have whipped up. Most special needs toys are super expensive. I guess the fact that they aren't mass manufactured and often have more complex bits and pieces push the cost up. Not to mention most have to come from overseas and so that's a whole other cost to add on. Here is some pics of a DIY "Toy Hanger" I thought of. Its just a basic portable clothes hanger that can be adjusted height wise. We can hang all sorts of things from it like bells, small toys, mirrors, beads, crinkly paper, tambourines, etc. Its all so easily changed too. What I like about it best is that on the lowest height the toys hang just above ground level so Noah can get to them when lying on his back, then I can move it up so its the right level for his Special Tomato Chair and then when in his seat/pushchair I can put it up to suit that too. Noah just has to move his arms and hands a little to get some sort of sensory effect. It keeps him entertained on his own for a short while too which is a huge bonus.

Painting and Craft

 Noah recently undertook his first painting masterpiece. We used stamps, rollers, shapes and a canvas so we could keep it as a special memento. Noah finds it very hard to purposely move his arms and his hands are mostly fisted so he cant grasp or hold on to things. So what I did was hold the stamp near his hand and move his hand up and down like he was stamping it all over the canvas. Then we painted his foot to do a footprint. The feel of the paint on his foot got quite a response. The painting experiment was a hit and Noah seemed to really like it. We have since started doing paintings for the whole family.

Another experience we are exploring is using craft like materials. Things like feathers, different textured paper, buttons, cotton balls, straws, glitter, etc. I would show Noah the different pieces and touch them on him. Then I was gluing stuff on paper so he could see. I think he liked when I tipped all the buttons and paper on him.


Now I think the iPad technically falls under more of a therapy use for us. Noah loves, loves, loves it and so we use it as a incentive for strengthening his head control in sitting and during tummy time. But there is the fun factor about it too. We mainly save clips on youtube and watch these. Noah's favourites are Baby Einstein, WeSee, Super Simple Learning Songs (my fav is Little Snowflake, it is the most gorgeous thing) and of course anything Elmo. Noah's number one favourite clip is Elmo's Ducks, which we do at least twice a day. I seriously sing it all the time, "Oh Gosh Oh Gee....."

Having a child with a severe disability is tough. There are so many things to think of, schedule and research. Days are filled with endless things to do with therapies, equipment, medical issues, funding and on and on. Sometimes its hard to just stop and play. Noah relies on us for everything including interacting with his environment and finding joy in the things around him. And sometimes kids just wanna have fun.

"In order to encourage creativity in others and yourself you must look and listen with your heart and sometimes just be still" - Creative Truths

Noah's Friends From Around The World

As I have mentioned before I belong to an online HIE support group. It is such a source of inspiration for ideas. I thought Id share some of the toys and playthings Noah's online buddies love so much.

Emmy loves pom poms. Goooooo Emmy!
Logan's Mum is amazing, and so creative. LED lights seem to be a hit (Noah loves them too)

Ava and her survival blanket. Look at that smile.
Travis in his Squiggles Stander with his fav toy
Eleanor loves drawing

I love this pic, such an inventive idea to help Joshua when he was learning to crawl

Tara with her Paper Jamz Drums - I'm looking into getting one off Ebay

Look at Charlie's homemade swing :)

Ben shows off his Waterbabies neck ring these are a hit with special needs mums across the world
Mikey's cool wheels

Jaren is an Elmo fan too


Other Resources

Adapted World is a blog I came across that shares the story of Brooke and her family. Brooke was born with Severe HIE, like Noah. Written by her Mum, Erin, this Blog has a wealth of info about toys, adapted and specialized toys, play activities, and a whole host of other fun ideas. You will also find instructions on how to make a Toy Gym/Bar like above.

If you have questions about any info I have posted, where to find certain toys, or you have any other ideas or resources you'd like to share, please email me at