By Leslie Lindsay
It’s that time of the year again! Days get shorter, excitement increases, and the folks who have made a difference in our lives receive acknowledgement.
If you’re scratching your head this holiday season for creative speech-language gifts to give the special people in your life–and your child–have no fear. While this list isn’t conclusive by any means, it just may spark an idea or two.
For the SPECIAL PROFESSIONALS in your life: (Speech-language pathologist, OT, PT, teacher, etc.)
- Books! Being a lover of the written word, I can’t pass up on opportunity to give a book as a gift. Depending on the professional, you can find many books that just may fit perfectly for his or her profession. Shameless plug, of course is SPEAKING OF APRAXIA
which has been a favorite among speech-paths across the world (including Australia and even Brazil; no it’s not translated to Portugeuse). One mom even wrote saying her child’s classroom teacher bought the book to increase her classroom knowlege. Linda Reinhardt, CCC-SLP has a new one, TALKING IS HARD FOR ME (2013) which works for parents, SLPs, and kids. How about Dee Fish, CCC-SLP’s HERE’S HOW TO TREAT APRAXIA (Plural, 2011)? It’s more tech-y, but perfect for the practicing–and motivated–SLP. (both books available thru Amazon).
- iTunes Gift Card. Professionals who work with an iPad are very grateful for these gifts to purchase speech-language apps they can use in the clinic setting for many.
- Ornament. We gave our SLP a special, personalized ornament stating, “Thanks for giving us the gift of voice.” You can find personalized ornament kiosks in many local shopping malls. Or, try some on-line ornament distributors. Make your own! Also, CASANA/Apraxia-Kids has one as well…http://secure.apraxia-kids.org/site/apps/ka/ec/Product.asp?c=dkISJcNSKlLaG&b=8294487&en=4dIxHFPfG3LGJPNiH2LDKMMtEeLBLJPmFdJMLXNAJrE&ProductID=1864239
- Jewelry. How about a whimsical hand-stamped necklace or bracelet? Many artisans will do custom pieces at www.etsy.com. Our favorite has been www.handmadelovestories.com. Personalize it with a saying about speech, “Here’s to small talk!”
- Donate a bundle of toys to your speech clinic. These could be used (things your children may have outgrown, but are still in good working order), or you could purchase new. Perhaps asking your clinic what’s on their therapeutic wish list would provide some direction.
- The same could be said with donating waiting room toys, books, magazine subscriptions. You sit in there all the time–what could your clinic benefit from?
- Continuing with the subscription theme, is there a professional journal your SLP/PT/OT would like to receive? These tend to be on the pricey side, but so worth it. Perhaps a group gift for the entire clinic would be good. Also, I love ADDitude magazine. Not a professional journal, per se but still a great read and less expensive. It can benefit all families, not just those raising children with AD/HD.
When considering toys for your children, look for those that are multisensory (tactile, colorful, etc) and also open-ended (there is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to play).
Other things to consider: where you’ll store the toy, how much space it takes up, what age group it appeals to/how long your child will enjoy the toy, safey, indoor/outdoor use, as well as educational value. Another big concern (at least for me): how loud is it (can you turn the volume down or off?), how easy is it to clean?
- Books. I’ve found the world of books really opens the minds of all kids, but especially those with CAS. Reading increases intimacy between child and caregiver, plus it’s super for receptive language. You can start with expressive language, too by engaging in dialogic reading. “Oh, I see the little boy is climbing a tree…why do you think he’s doing that?” Kids with CAS also struggle with rhyming techniques. Add a few that touche on that. Younger kids get a kick out of Dr. Seuss and Sandra Boynton books. Older kiddos may appreciate the silliness of Shel Silverstein.
- Books about Speech: “My Name is Milly” about a little girl with CAS, written by a Minnesotan mom, Heather Ziessler. THE BIG BOOK OF EXCLAMATIONS by Teri Peterson, CCC-SLP. I WANT TO BE YOUR FRIEND by Andrea Baublitz, “apraxia mom.”
- Photo books. One year, back before all of these cool digital photo books came along, I made a photo flip book of our daughter engaging in fun, family activities throughout an entire year–and alphabt–and gifted them to grandparents. A is for apple…a photo of Kate at the apple orchard. B is for ball…which interestingly was one of her first words. When we started in speech therapy, made another book in which I created several questions for discussion to go along with photos. “Who is going down the slide? Where are we? What color is that ball?” Here’s a great example: http://www.modernparentsmessykids.com/2012/01/personalized-alphabet-book-2.html. Consider Shutterfly for making your digital photo book, as well as Walgreens.
- Active toys. Scooters, tunnels and tubes, belly work scooters, giant exercise balls. Why? Activity stimulates the vestibular system and often encourages speech. It also keeps kids healthy and physical. Love the huggle pod from Hearth Song, too. Other “big” toys this season seem to be Slackers tight-rope-like straps for balance challenges, backyard zipline kits, and more.
- Lottie. A more wholesome doll alternative features no make-up, no heels, no jewlery, and is designed after a 9-year old girl’s body. Talk about the clothing, develop social play, create fun scenarios by talking and exploring. www.lottie.com
- Roominate. Love this EngiGirl toy developed by two female engineers. Great for your busy, inventive girl who loves making things work. www.roominatetoy.com
- Great toy brands to consider: Discovery toys http://www.discoverytoys.net/, PLAN Toys http://usa.plantoys.com/, and Melissa & Doug http://www.melissaanddoug.com. Durable, open-ended, and provides hours of creative play.
For more information on this topic, hop over to Katie Yeh, CCC-SLP’s site, Playing with Words 365: http://www.playingwithwords365.com/2013/11/25-gifts-to-expand-your-childs-speech-development/