Age is but a Number

Ceri-Ann Brown's avatar

by Ceri-Ann Brown
on

It's almost Christmas and the special needs bloggers are out in force with recommendations and posts about what presents to buy, how to avoid meltdowns, how to be inclusive and so on.

I've seen so many positive and helpful posts are out there, it makes the internet a rather wonderful place for people like us and helps us all share ideas.

I love it. Solidarity and all.

I got added recently to a group about sensory ideas for Christmas too and there are some great suggestions and examples on how to maximise all lighting and tactile opportunities.

The fact these groups exist and that so many members are a part of those groups shows to me that there is no "normal".

Different things work for different families and whilst we might all have some things in common, there are things specific to just our children.

With that in mind, it started to annoy me recently the age recommendations they add onto toys.

Obviously I understand the safety precaution ones about small parts and so on, but even then it would be better if it just warned of small parts - some of our children over the age of 3 do not know the dangers of small objects and wouldn't think twice before consuming and ingesting them.

Though I suppose as parents we have adapted to ignore the labels on toys and choose what is and isn't appropriate for our child. Personally  though - I don't care if she still loves toys like this when she's 50.

As long as she is happy.

That's what it's all about.

I have seen parents claim that pound shop dog toys are ideal for their child as they like to mouth things and these toys are much more durable than the toys you get for children.

I've seen people use Christmas decorations like beads and tinsel as a prop for tactile play and visual impairment therapy.

I've seen people turn a clothes rail into a pole for hanging toys on so their child can independently hit the toys whilst in their wheelchair.

Special needs parents are truly some of the most innovative people I've ever met. Always trying to see the world through their child's eyes and find a way to sooth and please them.

A toy Amy recently received says age 6 months to 24 months. She is almost 36 months, a whole year older than their recommended age.

Thank you for highlighting to me the cognitive delay my child has and slightly alienating us.

On a bad day, this is the sort of thing that might upset me. I would wish these big companies stop and recognise that there is a big market for switch adapted toys, though I have noticed a few disability companies have started to adapt mainstream toys.

On a good day like today I think HA, screw you, my child can enjoy whatever the hell she wants.

If she likes it... it is therefore age appropriate for her.

This doesn't mean I don't challenge her or show her things a child her age might typically like... But I am finding a lot of the older kids toys are figurines and things that require fine motor skills and imaginative play.

Sometimes she will look at them and we will try to play with them, but she is a little girl who wants to be in control.

She doesn't always want to sit and watch, she wants to be doing it herself.

One of Amy's most recent developments is helping turn the pages on her electronic books. It fills me with so much excitement every time when I see her hand move to indicate she wants to turn the page.

Not just that she is focusing on turning the page, but that she knows this page is finished and wants to look at the next one. 

Toys for us are a great way for her to express that actually, I am bored of this now... I need something more interesting.

It helps her motor skills, her communication, it helps relieve sensory issues and anxiety, it helps her regulate her movements. It is how she shows her likes and dislikes and it gives her a voice.

In some ways, the way she has overcome the limitations her body has set on her and found other ways to show preference.. to me this renders her just as if not more intelligent than her peers.

Her knack for problem solving is incredible to me.

This is a skill I could only dream of her developing in the past, to see her actually doing it is so good. 

This year she will receiving mainly electronic books and toys (and lots of spare batteries!)... this is what she loves, this is what helps her thrive, this is what helps her remain in control.

The age does. Not. Matter.

I for one am 30 next year and I love nothing more than a nice teddy bear, or some of the same cartoons I enjoyed 20 years ago.In some ways none of us ever grow up, this is what I love about Christmas.

It is an opportunity to relive your childhood but through the eyes of your child; and if it so happens that you do that slightly differently to what you expected... that's just beautiful too. 

I wonder a year from now how Christmas will be. Will it be electronic toys still? Who knows.

Wishing you all an amazing time with the ones who matter most.

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