Since Isabella’s Acquired Brain Injury (ABI), gift giving has become such a challenge. With the holidays approaching I have found myself struggling to find appropriate gifts. While Isabella is 8.5 years old she is much younger developmentally and cognitively. Isabella is unable to play independently and unstructured activities trigger her. All activities need to have a clear beginning and a clear end. So after much research and thought, these are the questions that I considered when purchasing gifts:
- What are Isabella’s interests? Isabella loves animals, dinosaurs, games, books and movies. So I started to research for ideas based on those interests. I found several new games that were animal or dinosaur based. I also came across books that included a ton of animal and dinosaur facts with real pictures. In addition there is a movie from the library that Isabella loves and I learned that there is a whole series of other animal stories just like it.
- What skill deficits can we work on? Isabella needs help with fine motor skills, balance and coordination etc. I looked for gifts that incorporated those skills through fun play. Isabella enjoys crafts so when I came across a pipe cleaner animal kit I knew it would be a hit. Doing crafts also works on fine motor skills. When I found a WII dance game that included many of Isabella’s favorite Disney movies I knew it would be a lot of fun while also helping with balance and coordination.
- What items can we use with homeschool? Having watched Isabella do therapy for four years, I have learned how to make “work” fun through play. As a result I am always on the lookout for new items that can help me teach. Reading is more fun when you have finger puppets so when I found animal ones I knew Isabella would love them. I also finally got a spy kit for Isabella which can be incorporated in so many ways. It is all about thinking outside the box.
- How can I improve ADLs (activities of daily living) skills? Cutting Isabella’s nails is such a process. Her tics and inability to sit still make it challenging at best. However when we have “Mommy and Isabella Salon”, it goes smoother. Isabella loves our “salon time” so having a foot spa, mani/pedi items and a fun printed bathrobe will make it that much more enjoyable.
Once I stopped focusing on what I couldn’t get Isabella and started focusing on what I could, the gift ideas got easier. My thought is that by incorporating Isabella’s interests with her needs it will improve her condition. I hope that these tips help you in finding gifts for the survivor in your life.
Guest Blogger, Kristin Olliney-Apruzzese, is the mother of 8-year-old Isabella, who suffered sudden acute encephalitis when she was just 4. Kristin’s bi-monthly blog, Mommy of a Miracle, talks about the trials and joys of raising a brain injury survivor.
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