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Most children are inveterate "fiddlers" and will make use
of anything that comes to hand - a lock of hair, a rubber band, a
clothes peg, sitting on the beach and dripping the fine sand through
the fingers - I suppose even stroking the cat might be considered
a "fiddle". All these activities are examples of pleasant
and relaxing tactile experiences. Some children with special needs
may not have the mobility or ability to choose a fiddle toy for themselves
and could welcome a ready made one. Here are three ideas which have
stood the test of time and still bring pleasure to certain children.
These are the very simplest form of feely bags and are made in a jiffy.
Simply put something tactile in the toe, tie a knot in the leg, and
there you are! Toddlers short socks make even better fiddle bags.
They are often brightly coloured and patterned and that adds to the
child appeal. Put in two tactile objects - like a Ping-Pong ball and
a potato crisp bag or a nylon pan scrubber and a large button - and
stitch across the top. You can create tactile experiences which are
just right for the child in mind. These simple feely bags can also
be used for throwing games and they are excellent for stacking. Children
who do not have the control to stack bricks can achieve quite a high
mound of socks and all the time they are practising their "grasp
An Amorphous Beanbag
Sylvia O'Bryan, Toymaker.
As its name implies, this unusual beanbag has a strange shape which
is much more exciting for the child than the usual square or oblong.
It is about the size of a dinner plate, but is anything but round.
Think of a treasure island with plenty of bays and inlets and promontories.
Make the beanbag like that and perhaps add some bunches of ribbon
or a loose plait. Fill it with polystyrene beads as used for stuffing
some commercial toys, and maybe add a large marble that the child
can squeeze around inside the bag.
A Manx Cushion
The inspiration for this toy came from the emblem for the Isle of
Man plus a desire to use up a pile of odd socks! A toy was needed
to interest a multiply handicapped little girl who had very little
mobility. Three colourful socks were stuffed with tactile contents,
including a squeeker and a bunch of bells. They were attached at regular
intervals to a circular cushion. This was the right size to sit comfortably
on the child's knee. In a very short while her fingers began
to explore the socks and fiddle with the contents. She was nervous
of the squeeker at first, but loved the bells!
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