Caroline’s birthday is coming up soon and that heralds Christmas coming around the corner. What to buy this engaging young girl? Always the challenge. Clothes? Simple enough, yet, how many outfits can a girl have (that is a rhetorical question). Of course, a girl can’t have too many clothes. But what 7 (soon to be 8 ) year old desires just clothes? Stuffed animals? It’s believed that Zoe (the family dog) covets those stuffed animals more than Caroline. Blood thirsty dog – ripping out the eyes and throat of all the stuffed animals.
So…. what does a young girl with Rett Syndrome want for her birthday and Christmas? What will make Caroline smile and giggle? What will engage her in the task of play?
Caroline may benefit from things that “tickle” and stimulate her senses to bring her out and engage her in the task of playing and/or learning. Sensory toys should engage all of Caroline’s senses – or at least a good many of them, at the same time. Senses include: vision, auditory, touch, smell, sense of movement, and positional sense. This isn’t to say that high stimulation is good for all. Some people react negatively to over-stimulation. Caroline reacts better to stimulation and interaction.
What does Caroline like? We know that Caroline loves music. Caroline has a nice CD collection – ranging from children songs, Veggie Tales, Sesame Street – – to quiet piano, Mozart, and lullaby’s. We are very curious to know what her favorite genre of music is – at this moment it seems that she likes them all!!
Caroline loves movement. Girlfriend has the need for speed!! She enjoys dancing in her wheelchair as we go for walks and weave back and forth – singing and dancing the whole way. She enjoys chasing Zoe when she’s in her wheelchair (and those pushing the wheelchair definitely benefit from the exercise, too –> win-win!!). Caroline enjoys bouncing on the exercise ball and swinging on the swing. The great thing (and also not so great) is there is a very nice playground that is accessible to individuals with physical disabilities – and allows (encourages) them to play with their non-disabled peers (and siblings). The Possibility Place is located approximately 20 minutes away. The playground has excellent equipment. Caroline’s favorite piece is the swing. The swing is built perfectly for her and she enjoys the movement. The sad thing is that we have to pack and drive the 20 minutes in order for her to enjoy the swing. She has a playground in her development – a 5-minute walk away. The playground in her development is not geared for her and she cannot enjoy it.
Caroline loves sensory – touch. She enjoys cuddling and she is GREAT at it — snuggles right in. She enjoys a good back rub — which goes well with a nice lotion (add a scented/soothing lotion like lavender — she’s in heaven). I like to position her on her exercise ball — on her belly. She gets her 20 minutes of belly time to strengthen her core…. and while she’s there she gets a nice back rub — a 2 for 1 deal!!
She responds nicely to visual. Santa was able to find a couple of awesome gifts for Caroline last year. She continues to enjoy the lighted turtle each night. The turtle lights up and displays a galaxy of stars across the ceiling and walls of her room (add to the soft music playing from her CD player – she drifts right off to sleep). She also has an interchangeable sea-life toy. This toy interchanges to be various marine animals – and has a soothing sound of the sea life as it gently moves back and forth.
Caroline seems to enjoy artsy things (with the assistance of a helper) – coloring, painting, shaving cream art, play-dough, etc. She enjoys helping with culinary things – such as baking cookies. This is also good for fine motor skills –even with someone providing hand-over-hand manipulation. It keeps her fingers, hands, and wrist limber.
And what young girl doesn’t enjoy getting mail? I know this young girl — ME!! — loves to get a nice card in the mail. You’re never too young or <ahem> too old to have your spirits lifted by going to the mailbox and finding a nice card from someone who’s thinking of you. Nowadays cards light-up and play music — perfect for Caroline. She seems to enjoy getting a card from her various admirers – with one particular admirer, Braden!!! What a sweetheart, Braden is!! He’s got gorgeous green eyes. Her Daddy is keeping an eye on her (and him!). The two have been known to receive and send cards back and forth to each other. They had a bowling date last spring — a nice social outing for the both of them (and I hear that another date is in the near future to the Sweetest Place on Earth). Daddy’s watching!!
Gift giving for Caroline does take some thought for something meaningful and beneficial with hopes to bring her out and engage her. We have 6 weeks until her birthday and 10 weeks until Christmas to find just the right thing. Caroline has a great group of people who love and support her — and are looking for just the right thing. Girl Power 2 Cure has wonderful gift ideas: http://rettgirl.org/category/products/holidaygift/