If you have a child with special needs, you probably spend a lot of time trying to "do helpful stuff" at home---stuff to help communication, teach, manage behaviors, etc. I think that we all spend a lot of time trying a million different things . . . so here are some of the things that I've tried, in case you're looking for new stuff to do:
Educational/ Communication Stuff:
-A magnetic chalkboard wall The chalk part can be for fun, but also for writing choices on-the-go and pointing. It's magnetized so that I can print BoardMaker symbols on magnet paper (or other printed magents--letter, numbers, pictures of toys or people, etc) and use them for choices, schedules, games, etc.
-Helpful household labels These are great for starting (or continuing) to expose kids to the Image-and-Text format of PECs (or BoardMaker symbols, etc). A lot of preschools use similar labeling techniques. Although, fair warning, be prepared to stick these things up over and over again---Maya loves to pull them off and bring them to me, and is delighted when I read the card and say "Chair?" She seems to be thinking "Yes! Good for you, Mama, you got it right!"
-The letter hallway Cut out, laminated letters have turned the hallway into a letter playground. Maya loves to run to her favorites (especially H) and point and tell me the letter sound. It also gives us the opportunity to talk about letters (Hey Maya, I'm sitting next to the G! or Do you see the picture of the bus next to the B?) and play games (Can you run and touch the K?)
-Letter cards/letter boards Little letter flashcards, you can throw them on the floor, flip through them on a keyring, refer to them in conversation (You want the ball? Ball starts with B-show card-can you say "Buh"?) The letter board would just be a printed, laminated sheet of letters, to practice identifying them---touch the X, put the penny on the Q, etc.
-Simple PEC modification When we started showing Maya picture cards, they were too thin for her to manage---so we cut up some foam mats and super glued them. This works well if your child has fine motor issues.
-Big keyboard stickers Make it easier for a new keyboard user to recognize the letters, numbers, and buttons.
-The Word Book We made our own PECs style book. You can also see it in action here.
-Other ways we communicate Paper and markers, hand taps, etc.
-Visual countdown/behavior management We were having major feeding problems, and this was a game changer. It's easy to think about how it could be modified to address other unwanted behaviors, too.
-Homemade pizza party This isn't very profound, but Maya has fun making pizza with us, and I posted it with a DIY label, so why not include it here. If you're looking to include your toddler in the kitchen, pizza is a good meal for "helpers". (Yeah, helpers definitely needs quotes around it.)
-Loading videos onto your iPad When I learned how to do it, I made a step-by-step blog post to show others (and, let's be honest, so that I wouldn't forget).