Learning to adapt and play

Play….such a simple, non threatening little four letter word but for me it can be like a volcano that’s waiting to erupt. As any parent of a child with ADD / ADHD knows finding an activity or toy that can provide even 10 minutes of concentration is like liquid gold. Concentration problems, memory issues, frustration, lack of understanding, impulsiveness can all case problems when it comes to play


Play is how our children learn and make sense of the world around them. From dolls and cars, games and building blocks, toys and games allow our children’s imaginations to run wild and learn. This is no different for a child with ADD. As a mum I am always on the look out for inexpensive fun and creative ideas of play. This has become harder the older my other children have gotten but it’s simple for my ADD daughter. Why, because it has taken me 5 years to work out her triggers, what amuses her (talking toys), what irritates her (board games) and what play activities are best to just completely avoid. 

There is no manual or written guide about this, it’s down to us as parents to discover unique and inspirational ways of entertaining our children. But with Christmas just round the corner maybe some idea’s here can help…….

  •  Play to your child’s strengths – for us this is our daughters artist side I always make sure to have on hand pens and paper, encourage their interests as this will give them much needed confidence.
  • Story massage – for us story massage is a family affair. The children can write their own stories and then massage each other using 10 simple moves. Story massage is an activity the whole family can get involved with and it can promote relaxation, imagination and confidence. (See previous blog for more info)
  • Try to avoid games and activities that you know can cause a negative reaction- for us this is board games, I got so fed up of them being thrown around the room I stopped buying them. Plus games that require more than 1 player can cause frustration, irritation, arguments, upset
  • Lego – Buy the bigger duplo sets – you may be told they are big and babyish but once the Lego has been played with and it’s time to put away, or if something happens and the legos gets thrown around the room….then the duplo is easier to find and clear up reducing your stress and frustration in having to find tiny bricks.
  • Outside – even in cold weather my daughter loves to be outside. This also allows her to let of steam so to speak as long as she is wrapped up warm she is outside discovering what a change in season does to the outside world around her and it gives you a 5 minute break so have a cuppa tea and breathe. 
  • Sensory toys – there is now a huge push for toys for disabled children which is great but when your child has an unseen disability this is hard. I have found that the cheap and inexpensive fiddle toys are invaluable. Stress balls (you can make your own) stretchy men anything that’s small (watch out for small parts) can entertain and keep little fingers busy.
  • Interactive toys – some of these last longer than others but I find with our daughter that if she can interact with a toy she is entertained for longer. Some toys now you can record messages on them which is great as kids respond to love and praise.
  • Wooden games/toys – the traditional wooden games and toys are more robust I feel for a child which may throw or have a habit of breaking. Food items for a shop, Wooden games such as Jenga can all withstand most things. 
  • Books – this was another hard one for me, to long and frustration would creep in and to boring I would get told to shut up 😡 pick books which your child is intrested in as it may hold their attention a little longer and do the funny voices….it keeps them entertain and allows a little longer before boredom creeps in. 
  • Allow for breakages – accidents wether intentional or not are going to happen. Yes it’s frustrating and yes you will feel angry and learning to accept this part is the hardest but working out a suitable punishment is key. I refuse to buy another once it’s gone it’s gone and while I still get shouted at my daughter knows this. 

For those who love to think outside the box diaryofaplayfulchild.wordpress.com has some great ideas that you can adapt for children with special needs and disabilities. We have adapted most of the ideas here and used them with an 10, 11, and 12 years olds with great effect. 

For us story massage, teddies and dolls bring the best play experiences. I have found that for toys my daughter is better fixed and focused on what she likes compared to her siblings. She can become almost obsessed by them though which can cause issues if it gets broken or goes missing. At the end of the day every child is different and are all into different things. My four are no different in this. 


Thank you for reading and please feel free to comment or follow my blog http://www.leannesihm.wordpress.com

 Take care all 

X Leanne x

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