Christmas shopping for a four-year-old should be easy. You pick up the latest Dora toy, or the latest Yo Gabba Gabba whatever, or a Leapster LeapPad and some games. Done. Game over.
Shopping for a four-year-old with the cognitive abilities of an 18-month-old is a little tougher. She doesn't watch Dora or Yo Gabba Gabba (I'm really not even sure what that is) or anything else for that matter. Whether it's because she's legally blind and gets limited satisfaction from visual cues on the television or because her attention span is too short for things she doesn't understand, I don't know or care. The fact is, she only recently discovered the tv, and all she wants to do is touch it and bang against it. She might watch for a minute or two if there's something colorful and pretty going on, but that's about it. So we can knock all the show-related toys off our Christmas list.
This year, I wanted to get her a LeapPad. She loves playing with my iPhone because of the touch screen, so why not give her something of her own with a touch screen and educational games? The problem, of course, is that she won't understand the games. It will be just like anything else where she touches it and something either happens or it doesn't, and she'll enjoy tapping her finger against it for as long as things happen or for five minutes, whichever comes first. So perhaps my best-yet idea isn't such a great one.
It's difficult to buy developmentally appropriate toys for a child with disabilities. You want to buy them toys that challenge them so they grow and develop, but the toys have to be within their cognitive grasp. You can't just sit them down with a computer and toddler computer games and expect them to learn how to spell when they still have very little receptive language and no spoken language. It's a real challenge... So I have no idea what Ceili is getting for Christmas this year. I've got a 3' tent shaped like a castle for her to play in (although the castle significance will be lost on her), some stacking cups because we're working on putting things in and stacking, and butterfly magnets because she likes to play with the magnets on the fridge. That's the best I've come up with so far. Maybe I'll go by the teachers' store in Reno tomorrow and see what sorts of educational/developmental toys they have there... Because when you have a child with delays, you don't buy toys that are just toys. Everything is a learning opportunity, and you don't waste time on things that won't help them grow.
I also need to find Ceili about 20 new board books, because she's tired of her current books and has started tearing them up. (This is why we buy board books and not paper books--tougher to tear.) Surely the teachers' supply store can help me out with that one, too...