When it comes to helping kids with invisible disabilities—physical or mental challenges not always visible to the onlooker—you never know where help may show up.
This was the case for Beth McIntosh, president of NWO Apraxia Support, a nonprofit group that helps therapists, teachers and families find and afford tools or methods that enhance the lives of children with invisible challenges. Her organization specializes in childhood apraxia of speech (CAS).
“I first saw (a Find It game) in the waiting room at my child's dentist office a few years ago and recognized that they would be a great tool for my son and others,” Beth said.
She first started using her Find It game in the car as a “calming activity” for her son.
“I have also used it in his break box, a box of toys to be used only when he needs to take a moment to collect himself.”
Soon after, her organization started to include Find It games, with instructions, in a bag of therapy tools it sends to teachers and therapists. The games were sent to be used not only as a calming device, but “as a means to increase functional communication and to practice speech.” For someone with an invisible challenge, such as CAS, this may be the inability to say, “your turn,” “my turn,” or “next, please.”
NWO Apraxia, based in Bowling Green, Ohio, also places the game in what it calls “sensory baskets,” said Beth, used during school recess and other periods to relieve the children’s anxiety or stress.
CAS affects the motor abilities of the tongue, lips, jaw and palate, all of the parts of the mouth necessary for intelligible speech. The child with CAS knows exactly what he or she wants to say, but can’t make all the parts of the mouth work together to speak the words as they should sound.
“We find that many parents had not thought of using the game both as a method to play independently and together.” She said when kids play it together the game helps to develop their communication with each other.
She cited an added appeal to Find It games, completely contained in capsules full of pellets that conceal miniature items for kids to find and specific to a theme—be it stars and planets, the beach, glitz and glamor, dinosaurs or a handful of other intriguing pastimes and wonders of the world. “It is a very versatile and compact game that can be taken places easily without the fear of losing pieces or parts.”
Kids can practice communication together with a Find It game by using a list of items included with the game. They share what they found on the list and check it off. As a team they can try to check off all the items on the list.
Beth noted, “We would love to continue to work with (Find It Games) in the future, especially as the product comes in new themes we have not used before,” and ultimately placed in the organization’s event bags or purchased for teachers and therapists in the Northwest Ohio and Southern Michigan areas.