Future Reflections                                                                          Spring/Summer 2003

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Why You Should Encourage Your Child to Play With the Pots and Pans!

by Jacki Harth

Reprinted from Future Reflections volume 7, number 3.

Bringing the world to my two-year-old son (who happens to be blind) seems like an overwhelming job and I used to feel very guilty for not sitting down and working with him the way his teachers did at school. Then Tyler showed me how he could practice these skills at home with �house stuff.� Here is an example. I had read in many general articles about children (and remembered that this was true with my other children) how children love pots and pans. Little did I know what a gold mine of education we had in one little cupboard.

Orientation and Mobility/Finding the Cupboard: Since Tyler enjoyed making �music� with the pots and pans, it was a built-in reinforcer for him to find the cupboard, cruise past the stove, etc. He cruised back and forth for many weeks on that side of the kitchen finding landmarks and feeling very proud of himself.

Sound Localization: It didn't take him long before he was throwing a pan across the floor and crawling or scooting after it.

Object Permanence: Now this made sense! Open the door and they are always there.

Fine Motor Skills: Learning how to open the door was a task that took time and concentration. We also talked about the front of the door, the back and inside of the cupboard, etc.� It was a great opportunity to talk about these concepts. The fine motor skills were tested whenever he tried to pick up an upside-down cake pan (try it once).

Gross Motor Skills: Cruising to cupboard then walking across the kitchen freestyle (very scary for mom). He also walks around with a pan or two and practices sitting on the bigger ones (or in them).

Discrimination: There are always big pans, little pans, heavy pans, LOUD noises, soft noises, and so forth.

Self-Help Skills:� Throw in some spoons and cups for an added surprise. Here again, more concept building, such as big and little, etc.

Language and Communication: With practice you will start describing your child's actions while he is on the go. �Open the door.� �That's a heavy pan!� �Go get the pan.� �Sit down,� and �Stand up.�

If you don't want your good pans thrown across the floor, go to an auction or second-hand store and buy a boxful of metal ware. And if you think the noise will drive you nuts, you'll get used to it. The satisfaction and education your child is getting is well worth it. And just think of all the education he is receiving while you're washing dishes.

Other suggestions (Our O&M specialist gave me these suggestions.)

When your child is learning where the stairs are, put the safety gate on the second or third step-up or -down. This will give him the independence to investigate without falling all the way down.

Have a special activity that your child likes in each room of the house to encourage room-to-room travel. For example, an organ or keyboard in one room�you can turn on the demonstration tune to give him a continuous sound cue to find. An old coffee pot full of cookie cutters and wooden spoons encourages movement to a hard-to-reach spot like around the table. A drawer full of brushes and combs in the bathroom is a favorite spot, and a sit-and-spin toy provides an excellent sound cue for fun.

Tyler finds these favorite spots easily now by himself, but it took many months of showing him how to get there, and lots of practice to get to this point. As he gets older he will get bored with these and challenge us to show him new things.

Going to new and noisy places is always a challenge for all of us.� All that I can say is talk, talk, talk about the sounds and LET HIM LISTEN. I always want the public to see what a normal active child he is, but I've learned that a good long while in mom's arms listening will put the sounds and feelings in perspective for him, and then�when he is ready�he will get down and investigate.

When introducing a new experience (like swimming in a small pool) you may have to work up to the complete �normal� experience. We did this by letting Tyler sit in a separate pool, first on a chair with just his feet in the water, and bit by bit, working up to swimming by himself. It was only about a week before he was swimming in the pool with the others and having a great time.

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