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Special Needs Water Fun

The end of summer is upon us but the temperatures are still warm. Water toys are a great way to get some sensory play in while still having fun and cooling down. The next three toys are great for a variety of therapeutic needs. Water toys are always my son’s favorites, and the following toys are ones we own and love.

Brady’s absolute favorite water toy was a gift from his grandparents. The Little Tikes Anchor’s Away water play pirate ship. He will play with this for hours if we let him. It comes with boats and spinners, toys and even a crow’s nest that turns into a fountain! I love how he can use the cups that come with the toy to learn fine motor skills like stacking, nesting and even pouring. Great play for crossing midline when he makes the boats pass in front of him as well. Plus, it’s such a sturdy table and holds a fair amount of water that it keeps him engaged for hours and he can’t dump the entire thing over (something he’s tried with smaller water tables). His latest action with the water is to dunk his forehead and hair in the water and throw his head back to spray his brothers standing behind him. Ummm, Let’s just call that as working on his vestibular system. ;) Either way, he’s having fun and learning key skills.

Water squirters are fun for all ages. I love the Max Liquidator foam water shooters. I also found smaller foam squirters with fun animals and bright colors that are the perfect size for small hands at our local big box store. Working with motor skills again, the child can put the squirter down under the water, lift up, pull back and then push the water out. Great for sequencing, taking turns if you have other kids playing, and it’s just plain fun.

Many stores sell pool rings. We have these in many sizes and colors. Using a foam pool noodle, we put 4 rings on Brady’s arm. He then uses the opposite arm to take the ring off, thus crossing midline. He then works on hand-eye coordination and gross motor skills by placing that ring on the pool noodle. It’s just another fun way to work in some therapeutic play while in the pool. Brady doesn’t even realize that he’s working; he just thinks he’s playing the ring game! By mixing up the colors he then can match the colors or name them, adding in more elements for learning.

As with any child, make sure you are right there with them in the pool or bathtub, as well as when they are playing with the water toys outside or away from pools. In addition to the safety factor, you might walk into your kitchen and find you now have a drenched boy who is engaging in target practice with the foam shooters…and the target is your refrigerator. Not that I’m speaking from experience or anything.