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When your child has special needs, seeing them achieve even the smallest of things can make your heart soar.

In our case, it did not actually make our hearts soar but leap a bit. You see, the skill she showed off to us was the ability to open a medicine bottle… the one with a safety lid!

She was sitting on my dads lap, and he had health issues so his medicine bottled (closed) was sitting on the middle of the kitchen table.  Elizabeth reached for it and shook it etc. But then to our surprise…opened it!

I know that this  one skill has many motor planning parts to it as well as gauging pressure on the lid to get it to open.  So once we grabbed the bottle from her we could then be in awe of her new skill.

It was a skill that she learned in her occupational therapy.  She was in this therapy from such an early age due to her special needs of Dyspraxia and SPD ( Sensory Processing Disorder). I can remember how she learned this skill and  it involved many sessions in therapy  as well as follow-up activities at home.

One of the ones that we used at the beginning of teaching this skill were these cool plastic nuts and bolts. The were big, colorful and inviting.  This toy helped her use both hands at the same time to accomplish a task.  Which for someone with Dyspraxia can be a hard thing to do because crossing midline, in any activity, can be challenge.  This toys helped her work on her fine motor skills and of course,  learn the twisting motion which led to her ability to look directly into a bottle of my Dad’s prescription medication, as I just shared.

I know how it is to want your child to do something right away.  But I have learned that it takes steps and practice.  So this toy I am going to tell you about would be one to consider as a beginning of teaching these bilateral hand skills.

It is called the  Tots First Chunky Pegs.  It checks off everything on the list:

-The pegs are big

-They are colorful

-They are inviting.

The idea of the toy is that the child picks up a peg, stacks on one similar in shape and build small towers with them.  There is a board that holds them all and on this board is where the building can take place.  The tops of each peg is a shape some are circle, square, triangle and star as well as ones that are 4 and 6 sided.

They are also in great colors of green yellow, orange, purple and blue.

+  So right away, I can see putting these on the kitchen table with some on one side of the child and some on the other and having them use BOTH hands to put them together. And BOTH hands to take them apart

+  I can see having the pegs on one side of the child and the board on the other and having the child CROSSS MIDLINE to put the pegs on the board.

+ I can see having them stack all the same color ones together and then use BOTH hands to take them apart.

+ Or putting them into a pile and counting them by color, shape or size.

And then of course, there is the one where they just get to play with it the way they wish.

In any event, it looks simple and says on the box it is for ages 12 months and up, but I can see some great things to do with them.  Maybe a nice idea for some “work” during  a quiet time.

Or put them in a plastic container to tuck into a sensory bin to have in your “arsenal” of sensory toys.  Especially if your child has a sensory diet that includes quiet activities and they like this kind of thing.

All things learned start with the first step toward the goal and toys like this make taking the first step kind of fun.

Just watch out for those medicine bottles once your child gets rolling.

I wish everyone a peaceful week.

Michele Gianetti author of “I Believe In You: A Mother and Daughter’s Special Journey” and “Emily’s Sister



Let me set the scene for you:

Michael, my wonderful 12 year old son, is getting into the car after a day of school.  ( I usually pick him up because his bus route is so LONG!)

He gets into the car, starts talking to me, grabs the water bottle that is sitting in the console, opens it, takes one or two sips and proceeds to chew the lid until it is no long round in shape but almost like a small, white, plastic taco.

And by chew, I mean really chew.  This is not something new for him.

He is a “chewer.” He chews on the collar of his shirts, the lids of water bottles that squirt, the corner of blankets when he is watching TV and more.

I must say that our conversation each day in the car after school involves me saying “take the lid out of your mouth” at least twice.  It would probably be more but we live only a mile from the school.

He has a basket of alternative items to chew to give him the input he is craving.  I even put out gum but there isn’t really “one thing” he will grab to chew.  Usually we will pry an item out of his hands and insert one of the alternatives, until this wonderful item was introduced to Michael…..and its name if CHEWIGEM.

This chewy pendant is shaped like a rain drop, is on a string necklace and is simply wonderful.

Trust me, we have purchased other items like this but I think what makes this so great is the consistency of the pendant.  It is not rigid.   It allows for Michael to use it without feeling discomfort, which is what he said about the other ones.

It also bends.  Which means he can chew it flat or fold it and chew it for more input.

He woke up this morning, came into the kitchen for a hug, then went to the basket to get the CHEWIGEM and sat on the couch to watch some TV.  He really, really likes it.

Michael is a typically developing child, who has a need for this kind of input. So I am so happy there are things out there for him.  But I know that so many of our special needs children, especially those who have Sensory Processing Disorder(SPD),may  crave this kind of input.  I know these items would be a good fit for them.

Another nice thing is that the lanyard has a break away clasp on it so if your child chooses to use it as a necklace, to keep it with them, you can be sure that they will not be choked by the lanyard.  You will have to keep in mind the age and development of your child to fully gauge the choking hazard of the pendant itself.

It is also safe to chew as it is BPA free and I cannot say the lids I talked about before are.

It is also fun to play with because of its texture and that it is so bendable. It can be used as a fidget too!  With the holidays upon us and stress riding high, maybe not such a bad idea to get one to offer to your special needs child at this busy time.  Or if you are like me, to your child who is currently chewing on a bottle lid.

In any event, take a peek at our site to read more and see if it is a fit for your world.  I know ours is!!

I wish everyone a peaceful week.

Michele Gianetti author of “I Believe In You: A Mother and Daughter’s Special Journey” and “Emily’s Sister”




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