by Elena Tardio -
Raising a child with Down syndrome is an exciting adventure, full of surprises but also challenges. Kids with Down syndrome love toys as do other children, but if you want to give your child more than just toys, but also tools for development, here are 6 helpful non-assistive technology tools that you should consider buying.
These items weren’t created especially for children with special needs, but their therapeutic design may be helpful for you and your family, as they offer support and a safety for your child.
It’s always important to keep in mind that your child with Down syndrome, a mild intellectual disability or low muscle tone, is going to progress and achieve all the things that every child does, but he’ll follow a different developmental chart. The secret to enjoying this experience is to focus on his abilities and to celebrate the small steps.
1. The most important tool for newborn and young children is tummy time. Give your child a safe environment for exercising all his body’s muscles while he learns to celebrate his independence and develop motor-control.
A basic play mat is the best thing you can get for this exercise. They are fully washable, safe and easy to set up anyplace in the house. They provide stability to your child while he exercises his muscles. You find them for $20 or less in any department store or toy store. Avoid buying a play mat with many pieces as they are not easy to transport, and your child could small pieces in his mouth, raising the risk of suffocation.
2. The next step is to buy a baby gym. Be sure to choose the one that grows with your child and can help him to the next step. I like the Bright Starts Baby Play Mat. It’s soft, colorful, and it has a supportive pillow at the top that protect Baby’s chin when he´s learning how to support his head. It includes a ring rattle and water-filled teething keys.
Fisher-Price Discover ‘n Grow Jumbo Mat is another good choice. It’s easy to pack and features fun characters and lots of toys that will engage your child in developmental activities. Your child will love tummy time while kicking, pulling and discovering, and will move to the second step when he is ready to enjoy music while strengthening his muscles for sitting.
3. Kids with Down syndrome are flexible by nature and this may delay their physical abilities. Ask the physical therapist about getting hip helpers for your child. For only $15, you’ll help your child keep his legs closed while using the right muscles while learning how to seat.