As promised, Ms. Susie has reported back and shared the items that she bought using the wishes that you all so generously donated for Nate’s 4th birthday!  This entry is part one of three.  Susie decided to spend half of her gift now and the other half at the start of the school year this fall and I’ll also share what Ms. Mollie, Nate’s speech language pathologist, got with her birthday wishes!

I love the items that Susie picked out for two reasons.  First, they’re things that weren’t even on my radar.  While some items address the particular needs of kids on the autism spectrum, they’re all accessible and fun for kids of any ability.  Second, these purchases demonstrate the expense of equipment and items that best serve kids with special needs.  Susie spent $175 and that got five new items for her classroom–five very useful items that will be used for many years but, regardless, $175 doesn’t fill a basket with the things that are most effective.

For her first round of purchases, Susie focused on mainly sensory items for our kids.


Nate does not like the Octocap.

Octocap by Abilitations Integrations ($36.01)

The Octocap is a lightly weighted, tightly fitting hat, shaped like an octopus, that provides sensory input to our kids.  The tots can pull on the eight tentacles to provide additional pressure and sensory input to their heads.  Plus, it looks wicked awesome.  Nate was not a fan of this purchase (as you can tell by the photo) but his friends Matthew and Jolly love it.  Score one for Susie!

Body Sock

I’m pretty sure this is Nate….

Body Sock (size small) by FlagHouse Joint Co. Motion ($34.99)

Body socks help kids develop an awareness of the space around them through balance and resistance.  They can also have a calming effect as it gives kids with their own personal space and reduces the sight sense.  Body socks are made from stretchy lycra and are semi-transparent so the user can see shapes and shadows outside of the sock while maintaining a cocoon-like environment.  Nate is also not a fan of this one (in fact, Susie thinks Nate freaked out because Matthew was coming toward him in it!) but it is greatly enjoyed by many of Nate’s friends.


Sensory Stepping Stones (6 per set) by Guidecraft USA ($42.68)

For his birthday, we got Nate a set of brightly colored plastic spots to use in obstacle courses and to help him have a target when he’s in a jumping mood.  However these are way cooler.  Each stepping stone has a different texture — ridged rubber, smooth cork, flat plastic, etc.  The kids take off their shoes and practice walking in an order from spot to spot and get sensory input while doing it.  Ms. Julianne reports that Nate’s favorite one is the cork – he stops and stands there, wiggling his toes on the surface.  They’ve got little rubber feet so they don’t slip and slide on the floor.

Ruff's House

Ruff’s House Teaching Tactile Set by Learning Resources ($21.04)

This one is so stinking cute and I want to get one for Nate!  It’s a wee little dog house and inside the cloth-covered door are dog bones of different textures.  Kids reach in and try to feel for the bone that matches the other one in their hand.  The teachers said Nate loved this game and happily reached into the unknown space (something he’s not been willing to do with us at trips to kids’ museums etc.), find a bone, pull it out, and match it up to the ones in front of him. (As you can see, Nate had already enjoyed the stepping stones because his shoes, socks, and braces are piled up in the upper left hand corner of the photo!)

Greg and Steve

Sing & Read with Greg & Steve ($38.39)

This variety pack includes twelve Greg & Steve books that transform children’s songs into stories and an accompanying CD.  (One of the books/songs is entitled I Like Potatoes, a title that makes me giggle to no end.)  Nate’s therapists really know how to rock out a circle time; even though many of their kids are nonverbal, they still find unique and creative ways to include the kids in the reading of a story — from dance movements to turn taking with a felt board.  Susie reports that the kids love these stories so we’re glad she could expand the classroom library!