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Finding That Special Gift For That Special Child

By Hilary Gibson, Staff Writer
(Page 1 of 2)

A caregiver isnít just someone who is restricted to taking care of only an elderly or ill family member. Caregiving frequently encompasses the duties of regular parenting, but goes way beyond this role, particularly when a special needs child is the one being given the unique care and attention they need.

 With all of the advances in medical science and research, the origins and cures for several childhood disorders, such as autism, still continue to elude the medical detectives. What is definitely known about autism is that it is a neurological disorder which usually affects the processing, integrating, and organizing of information in the brain, causing the child to have problems with communication, social interaction, functional skills, and educational performance. To pin point any one, true cause for autism is still nearly impossible, which leads one to believe that there may be too many causes to categorize. Certain outside contributors that may cause autism include some form of trauma at birth, prenatal viruses, and possibly some childhood vaccinations. None of these have been conclusively shown to cause autism, however, it does appear that the one commonality that may lend itself to being a cause is anything that may disturb or hamper the central nervous system of a child, causing it to develop abnormally.

Since so little is known about autism, it may be difficult for parents, friends and relatives to understand what is going on inside the childís mind, and what type of toys or activities would be enjoyable, stimulating, and help to enhance the abilities and progression of the child. Itís really no different choosing a toy for an autistic child than it is for any child, however, here are a few helpful things to keep in mind:

  • Try to find a toy or gift that will be fairly unbreakable. Selecting toys made of wood, metal, or heavy plastic. 

  • For younger children, obviously get something that doesnít have any small pieces that could be ingested, become stuck in their throat, or hurt other parts of their body.

  • Find toys that can be played with both when the child is wanting to be alone, or with other people, allowing for social integration with the child.

  • Donít purchase games that require a lot of people to play, since autistic children often prefer to play alone. Games also have too many small pieces that may be too confusing and possibly dangerous for the child. However, games that have large pieces, such as dominoes, may be appropriate for older children while under supervision.

  • Purchase toys that are appropriate for the childís developmental age, not necessarily their true, chronological age.


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