When choosing toys and games for children with hydrocephalus or spina bifida, it is important to consider not only what will provide enjoyment, but whether the toy will also help all round development.
There are aspects of play with toys or games which can be used positively for specific learning: to develop concentration; to emphasise sequencing (putting events or thought processes in step-by-step logical order); memory training; perception (size and shape); manipulation (the use of hand and fingers) and co-ordination (especially hand/eye co-ordination). Some of these are examples of the specific learning difficulties that have now been highlighted as problems associated with hydrocephalus.
There are many good pre-school toys and games on the market which cover the development of such skills and could help in the early years. Adult supervision and guidance, reinforced by talking to the child about what he/she is doing while playing, will help the child with concentration and meaningful play.
All areas of play and development overlap, especially with a young child, where movement, hearing, seeing and thinking are all closely linked and vitally dependent on each other.
Toys do not need to be expensive - explore the charity shops and look in your cupboards - pots and pans, plastic colanders, empty plastic bottles (fill with rice or lentils to make a musical instrument etc.), wooden spoons, sheets, and towels will give hours of play.
- A bit of imagination costs nothing!