Good Toys for I.I.

A good point which is made in the Phoebe Caldwell DVD ‘Autism and Intensive Interaction’ is that the ideal II session wouldn’t have props, toys or objects because the focus would be on two human beings using their voices, facial expressions, personalities and physical presence to interact.  In addition, the presence of a highly desirable toy or object could lead a child with autism to focus exclusively on it and shut out their communication partner.  (Experience has taught me that iPads and toy cars are big no-nos for Intensive Interaction in our house).

However some carefully chosen items can enhance the interaction and provide variety and motivation.  They can also provide a bridge between enjoyment of an object (which comes naturally for children with autism) and enjoyment of a person (which may not) if – and it’s a big IF – the child can see that the toy would be more fun with the assistance/ participation of an adult.  Here are some toys that work for us.

The Peanut Ball

This is a physio ball which M. loves.  She rolls over it, bounces on it, sits on it like a horse, throws it around, stands on top of it (precariously) and also likes to lie down and have it rolled over her body for deep pressure.  The good thing is that it is quite hard for her to have fun with it without a partner, which is what makes it great for II.  We can do turn-taking (with throwing), stop/start sequences with rolling, anticipation with ready, steady go sequences and extended pauses and we always get great eye contact and giggles during the deep pressure exercise.

The Bilibo
The main function is to sit in the Bilibo (which is bowl-shaped) and be spun around - and spinning is always a winner! - but it could also be used for balancing on, catching beanbags, etc.  Again great for stop/start activities, ready steady go etc. and definitely more fun with an adult.

The old favourite.  If I blow some bubbles and then rest the lid back on the tub as though finished M. will be very proactive in restarting the game by lifting my hand, putting the bubbles up to my mouth again and sometimes vocalising as well.  Because she's so motivated I can then take risks with further delay (e.g. playful sabotage, pretending to not understand, etc.) and it's also great for ready, steady go and stop/start.  She likes the word 'pop' as we pop them together and will sometimes say it.

We have deliberately chosen not to have a swing in our garden so that it's a special treat when we go to the playground.  If I pull M.'s swing up towards me there is then scope to do ready, steady go and get her to initiate the release of the swing.  You can also do playful sabotage (pretending to forget to let go).  There's great interaction potential while she's swinging too - e.g. reaching out and giving her a tickle every time she swings before you, building anticipation.

Voice Changer Toys

Does what it says on the tin ... and adds a bit of drama to vocal echoing!

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