Archives for posts with tag: Dominoes

SusanToday we are honored to share the very valuable advice of Susan N. Schriber Orloff, OTR/L, FAOTA! She is the author of the book Learning Re-Enabled, a guide for parents, teachers and therapists (featured by the National Education Association), as well as the CEO/Exec. Director of Children’s Special Services, LLC an occupational therapy service for children with developmental and learning delays in Atlanta, GA. She can be reached through her website or at, on TwitterFacebook or on her blog.

When thinking of playful engaging activities for “special needs” children it is important to know that everything can be adapted to meet the needs of any child within a play environment.KnobbyQ1-edited

It is more important to think how than what. A simple game of checkers can be made easier by putting strings in the directions the player is allowed to move, pick up sticks can be arranged to follow a pattern on an underlying mat so that the game includes color and positional matching, not to mention pincer grasp. Dominoes can be color coded on their dots so that the game turns into multiple matching tasks, not just one; and so forth.__1482976_preview

Parents do not have to spend a lot of money in special needs catalogues looking for just the “right” toy or game when all games can be “right” if used creatively and with necessary adaptations.

When selecting special toys or equipment think about versatility and how many ways you can use the item. Special Needs Essentials is just that, the “essentials” so think about the BEST pieces to buy that cover a range of opportunities for multiple functions.

For example a “chewy tube” can also be an in-hand manipulation toy; neon bracelets can hanheld dogbe adapted pick-up sticks; hand held massagers can be part of a relay race game; and puppets designed for increasing hand skills can be used for imaginative play to increase social skills.

There is also the Old Fashioned concept of making a game or craft together. Before all the left over Christmas wrapping paper is gone, make a sculpture with the paper, watered down with school glue and some ModgePodge. Think about making toy storage boxes that the child will be invested in using by covering them 099with the left over wrapping paper and making it shiny with the ModgePodge. Parent and child will get a lot more out of this activity than the end product—they will be talking to each other and this is an excellent time to use and build vocabulary and social skills.

The most important thing to think about is ‘how can this activity enhance my child’s total developmental abilities’: physical (hand skills and/or gross motor), neurological (thinking, reasoning and sensory) and perceptual (seeing and processing) skills.

Your options are endless and they are most likely to be already in your home rather than a fancy (and expensive) catalogue, or in a store near-by.”

Susan N. Schriber Orloff, OTR/L, FAOTA


Good afternoon! Today we are happy to share some valuable advice on educational toys by Cathy from Bountifulplate! Cathy is a homemaker/wife and a mother to a 10-year old son with Autism and ADHD, an 18-year old daughter who is a college freshman and a stepson who is 30. Originally from Maryland, she has lived in the Midwest for 13 years.

Cathy and Dominic

tt puzzle 4My 10-year old son, Dominic, can put together 500-piece puzzles. When we first discovered he could do that, we asked everyone we knew to get him puzzles with several hundred pieces for birthday and Christmas gifts. Well, guess what? He frequently goes back to the wooden puzzles we gave him when he was a toddler that have ten pieces or less. He will sit on the floor for hours and hours and put them together over and over and over again. For children with Autism, like Dominic, it’s all about the routine, order and sameness!!! When we travel, I have even been known to bring his favorite puzzles along. 🙂 Why not? It brings him some familiarity.

3691Dominic can also recall when a certain special event happened, including the month and day of the week. I think this is a skill known as “calendar calculation.” We didn’t even know he had this skill until a few months ago. He loves any kind of matching game – it’s a favorite thing for him to do! He’s also fascinated by dominoes, though I think sometimes, he would rather blow them down than try and match them!

Puzzles and matching games teach your child so much, like visual perception, memory, fine motor, critical thinking, sequencing, reasoning, planning and logic skills. These are important skills that will serve them for a lifetime. Did you ever think that so many awesome things were going on while your child was playing with a puzzle or a matching game? Amazing, isn’t it? Your child will think that they are “playing,” when in actuality, so many awesome “teachable” moments are going on!

Cathy B.

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