No two special needs children are alike but they do all have one thing in common, they love to play. How your favorite special needs child plays may differ from other children, but it’s important that you get him games and toys that peak his interest and match his age and functionality so playtime is fun and learning time and not a frustrating experience.
A great toy that has endless learning possibilities is found in tactile discs. Often used by both teachers and therapists, the disks help the child learn to tell the difference between various types of textures. The discs are made from rubber that feels good on the fingers and there are five different textures to feel. Each disc is a separate color and one of the keys of these discs is to help children describe sense impressions verbally.
A great way to play is to ask questions and help the child learn to describe the various textures. Ask, “Does this feel bumpy?” or “Does this disc feel smooth?”. Encourage your child to repeat the words while holding the disc, the connection will be made to what he is feeling as well as the word to describe it. It’s a good way to start encouraging verbal descriptions of the things he feels with his hands. Each of the tactile structures is on a large disc with a smaller disc that the child may be held in the child’s hands.
You can create numerous games with your child. Use the discs to teach simple textures and help your child verbalize. Move on to colors and even simple counting games if he’s ready. Once he’s comfortable with the discs, you can also play blindfolded games and let him “guess” the disc and it’s a good way to teach him to further verbalize what he’s feeling.