As most of our children
are visually impaired and have limited understanding of speech,
it’s a good idea to come up with “cues” to indicate to your
child who is talking to him/her, what time of day it is, or what
activity is coming next.
Kayda, I used music to cue her to the time of day. We had one
song that indicated that it was time to get up-this changed as
she got older. It got so that she’d just lie stony faced if I
forgot to turn on her music. For most of her years I had a
series of songs that got played in the morning to help her know
what we’d be doing. After the “good morning” song (Rise & Shine
by Raffi, and then Rise & Shine (Arky Arky song) as she got
older) there would be a song played if she was taking the bus to
school, then a school song or story. During the summer and when
we went to Disneyland her morning cue tape was altered to
reflect the different things we’d be doing. At school, her
teachers did the same.
At bedtime, I always
played a particular version of Pachelbel’s Canon with ocean
sounds. As an example of how meaningful this was to her; After
she had been with us just over a month we took her on holidays
to visit relatives in the Interior of the province. The trip
took all day and we arrived around dinnertime. Kayda was stony
faced and looked totally out of it. None of my family that we
were visiting had ever met her or had previous exposure to
someone with her degree of disability so I wanted her to make a
good impression. I started to get her ready for bed in the
living room, as that was where a tape player was. I put on her
bedtime tape, and low and behold, she gave a big smile. From
that minute on she was relaxed and responsive and loved our
trip. That was only after a few weeks of hearing a particular
It also helps to have
specific “cues” for different people your child might meet. This
can be as simple as just saying hello in a particular way. One
of her former teachers always greeted her with a particular
song. Others had her touch their watch or their hair or glasses.
Anything you can do to help your child be more aware and feel
more secure about themselves and what is happening around them
Comments from parents about activities their children like:
Joshua age 4: Josh responds to lights, we have
created our own light room for him at home & he really tracks
the mirror ball.
Noah – 2 ½ years: Noah has some
hanging toys, which I have made up for him myself. It just has
and I have attached it with elastic to a hook in the roof. Off
each peg I have attached something different such as rattles,
beads, balls, brushes (like nail brushes etc) and bells, which
are his favourite. Whenever I lay him under it he goes CRAZY!
He kicks his legs so much to make the sounds and is soooo happy
and moves his arms to knock things.
Another toy, which Noah loves, is a play mat
that has different textures and sounds on it. One of the parts
is a flap that makes ‘crinkly’ sounds – whenever I lay him on it
he knows that moving his legs will knock this part to make the
sound and he gets very animated and excited.
He also loves the Fisher Price Crawl Along
Drum Roll. It is supposed to encourage children to crawl, but
we just put it next to Noah and whenever he knocks it it lights
up and plays music. It is great for when he is having time lying
on the floor – his eyes get very big every time he knocks it!
He loves any toys that make sounds or play
music and light up, but we are finding toys that he can do on
his own more like the ones we mentioned (and the little room)
are best as he doesn’t have to rely on us to help him with it.
Emily, age 5: Emily likes any musical
toy. She has a switch toy with a bumpy yellow surface, which
vibrates when she touches it. Yellow is her favorite color.
Also, hanging on her bedposts are 2 "pull" toys. They are all
scrunched up, and you pull them down to play a song. As the song
is playing, it scrunches back up. We play them every morning
when she wakes up, and it really makes her smile.
Emily also gets a lot of hand painting
activity with her therapist. They use rice, coconut, raisins,
whipped cream; all different kinds of textures, and she loves
Megan, age 7,
Megan does this (eye gazing to make choices) very well. We
started off by having 2 objects of which see knew (
teddy.......Shoe ) and asked her to look at teddy and she did,
then asked her to look at the shoe again she did. We then
changed objects and did again and she did. She can now choose
which things she wants as she will look at them and then fix on
to the thing she wants.
Today we have been
reading. She has a book which has magnetic animals that fix to
the page as the story goes on and I show her the animals and ask
her which one it is and she focuses on it and we put it on the
page, great fun.
Also you can make
things. I have made her some great toys out of scraps and
Great one when she is on
the floor. Big cardboard box covered in hologram paper turned on
its side and hang all sorts of this inside bells, pretty
Christmas baubles. I lay her on her side and she will reach out
for them. That was an idea I got from her preschool teacher who
bought a small one for the table so just made a bigger one.
Round about made out of
a mug holder. Lamp shade without cover attached and
hang bells. Hologram cards with bells on the end she loves it.
Megan favourite toy is
her rain maker would not be without them 5 in this house. She
loves them when she is sitting in her arm chair we put them
under her feet and she kicks them off the chair wonderful noise.
She will do it again and again and squeak with laughter.
Brennan, age 2:
He loves the Playskool Tummy Time Picture Show that he got for
Xmas from Santa :-) It's great for when he's on his tummy and
working on his head lifting. It was developed to encourage
babies to lift their heads. I will usually put him on his
bolster to encourage him to look up at it. Sometimes we'd try to
help him bat his hand over the large flower petals on the bottom
and it lights up the musical screen. Cute music and can also be
removed from it's base. For older kids they can be held sitting
and able to see the curte little light show. Works good at night
in a dimly lit room. To see a picture:
Another toy that's great
is the one he got from his OT for Xmas. It's made by Sassy
called Fascination Station. It's like a little Ferris wheel with
spin toys and a suction cup base so you can place it on any
surface. We put it on his sitting table and he'll bat at it
himself (intentionally-? or unintentionally) or we'll help him
and it'll spin easily like a Ferris wheel. He seems to enjoy
looking at it, it has those great developmental colors. It can
come off of it/s base and also be held as a rattle. It looks as
though he likes it. We do too.
age 3: I just wanted to mention something else regarding
those pictures of Chrissy I just posted. In the pictures with
the book, you can't make it out but the book has black and white
pictures along with the standard Braille "dots". You can see how
she is concentrating on it. Chrissy will drop her head down and
look at things as close as she can get them. Her therapist
mentioned to me that sometimes kids with visual impairments
prefer to keep their heads down and tilted (like Chrissy in this
picture) in order to see better. It isn't always poor head
control that makes them drop their heads down! Chrissy can raise
her head pretty well, when she wants to, but often she will take
this position to "peek" at things on her tray. So new moms,
don't get discouraged-sometimes our babies know what they need
to do better than we do!!!! Also, as for being blind-well, we
were told that at the beginning too-but our last ophthalmology
appointment was great, and from the picture of Chrissy
activation the switch, you can tell she is looking right at it.
That is how she activates her switches, she looks to see where
it is, then will often reach to activate. Sometimes she will not
even be looking at the switch anymore when she activates it, but
she "remembers" where it is. I hope you guys don't think I am
bragging. I just thought these pictures were awesome, and I
could see from them how much progress we are really making, in
slow small steps.
Ada, age 7, US: I
have a Neurosmith by Musini** - it is a great toy. Ada loves
it. It sits on the floor and it plays different music and has
lights on it. All Ada has to do is move her arm or leg or
anything like that. She doesn’t have to touch it - that makes
it nice - she gets it going all the time. She will laugh and
laugh at it and that makes it go off even more. We also use a
lot of Vtech toys. She loves them as well. We also have the
snooze Winnie the pooh that she likes. We have a Spinoza bear
as well. We put different tapes in it and she likes to snuggle
up to it and hear the music.
Kaleigh, age 11:
Kaleigh has always been the most interested in any of the V-Tech
toys that have switches and then make music or sounds. So good
for the cause and effect concept. The play gyms that Playschool
and any of the other companies have made, we used until she was
just too big for them. The "Little Room" has taken their place.
Now she is very motivated by te computer books that she operates
with a switch. But by far at this point in her life she is the
biggest fan of country music and CMT videos on the cable
station, and we do position her so that she might see what she
can. Unless any one should think she is not aware of what she
likes and dislikes and that she cannot control her environment
they just need to hear the vocalization when the news is on or
when she does not like a particular song. She is very capable of
having a temper tantrum if she feels it is her turn to determine
what is on TV. Kaleigh has always loved closeness and sound, be
it reading, music or even Grandma's singing.
Heather, age 3:
Heather also can "read a story" to a listener. We have Dr.
Seuss' Green Eggs and Ham loaded onto the Macintosh
computer. The story will read the page and then stop.
Heather at that time must push the mouse button to get the next
page to come up and read. She went through the whole book with
her vision teacher. She stopped longer than usual on one page
that was the color she had shown preference to earlier in the
lesson, and on one page she kept trying to click the mouse
before it was done. She was also turning her head away which
lets me know that she really didn't like that page.
(12/2/88-6/23/00): Kayda liked a variety of toys. For her
first Christmas with us (age 5) I had a hard time finding toys
that were appropriate as she didn't move or interact at all. I
found a couple of Disney toys that could be activated by
"accident" with touch and that lit up and played music. Another
one was motion and voice (noise) activated which she enjoyed.
She also got a "Dinoroar" by Fisher Price. I got it to put under
her arm when she was lying down in the hopes that one day she
might catch on to the fact that if you squeezed him (We called
him Bruce) he made a noise. Well, that toy was our miracle toy
that changed Kayda's life. Shortly after Christmas she
discovered how to move her arms so that she could pull Bruce
near her to suck on his head. She quickly started reaching for,
touching and chewing on anything that got near her mouth. And,
with many of the toys she had she quickly learned how to do the
most difficult thing on the toy. The toys that were activated by
"accident" were no longer wanted. The Dinoroar in the above
picture was Bruce's successor named TC. He was her teething ring
or soother for many years.
Through the years she
had a number of toys that she liked, mostly "baby" ones to start
with. There were the play
gyms, and various toys you could manipulate. She also enjoyed a
quite a few of them. By the time she was about 8 she decided she
didn't play with "baby" toys and knew what they were. For her
last years the keyboard was really the only toy she would play
with. She also loved things with textures. The kids in her class
at school made several books for her where they made up stories
and did pictures to go with the stories that had a variety of
things for her to feel like rice, seeds, etc. She loved those
and felt it was her responsibility to take all of them OFF the
Of course, as she got
older, her favorite things were listening to stories (and she
knew if you made her listen to a "baby" one or not) and watching
videos. She also grew to love Start Trek Deep Space Nine and
would fuss if I forgot to turn it on. She always knew when it
would be on. And, she hated commercials. She would fuss and
shout during a commercial.
Other pages in this section:
Choosing a Toy