Tools that Address Social-Emotional Concerns
Carmen Knight, M.A.T. Early Childhood and Special Education
We are living in challenging times. Children are hearing about COVID, Omicron,
concerns of school safety, and much more. Many of the children we work with have been diagnosed with ADHD, anxiety, and depression. As many as 6.1 million children are suffering with at least one or more of these issues daily. It is important that during this turbulent time, when children are struggling with so many issues, that we provide them with the social and emotional support they need to be successful in their daily lives. As Early Interventionists and Therapists, we can provide tools and necessary support to help them meet the goals that we have created for them and help children and their families make each day more enjoyable.
SmileMakers has a variety of toys that can help you help your patients, and they have organized them in a way that it is easy to locate on the site. Categorizing in such a way helps reduce the amount of time you spend searching for the perfect items needed for your sessions. I encourage you to visit SmileMakers.com and specifically, their Early Intervention and Therapist page to find toys and articles that will help meet your patients individual needs.
For those patients that need a little extra help to get through a doctor's visit or sibling event, click on Attention & Distraction Toys. This category shows items like fidget cubes and spinners, stress balls, bubbles and pinwheels that can be used during a therapeutic session and then left for use when a patient is feeling anxious at events or outings. Fidget or distraction toys are beneficial for all ages and will help patients manage their stress and anxiety when in an unfamiliar environment.
The Sensory, Calming and Emotion Toys category is another category EI's and Therapists can use to help children work on individual goals and also use to help navigate an overwhelming situation. With these toys, you can take into consideration the level of sensory input or calming necessary to assist a patient's developmental needs. Some children have a difficult time with loud noises, touch, or even the smell of certain things. Using toys like spike balls, sequin toys, modeling sand, or putty can give a child enough stimulation that the anxiety or stress they feel will diminish enough to get through an event.
Use SmileMakers variety of emoji prizes as a fun way to assess how a child is feeling about a certain situation. A child can share his emotion by picking a face from a sticker, ball or jewelry assortment that most closely describes how he feels. Using these fun emojis lets you or the child's family understand how he's feeling and adjust accordingly.
As therapists, we know that the best way to meet the needs of our patients is to use items that can help them meet their developmental milestones in a fun and engaging way. SmileMakers wants to be your source for these items and items that reward a job well done.