Christmas 2022 has come and gone – and, three years ago, I couldn’t picture having such a good time as Santa: with a crew of loving, thoughtful Santas surrounding me. I guess that’s what you call adjacently experiencing ableism as a parent to a child with a disability – because I was repeatedly told Sloan’s childhood and future had a pretty grim, un-fun outlook and had a hopeless year or so thinking about future holidays, Disney trips, etc.
But damn were those predictions wrong.
In fact – as an aside – today I did something I never thought I’d do…I threw away a painting from Sloan. (If you’re someday reading this: sorry Sloan! There are others though, lol.)
I was sure any time Sloan made something for me I’d hold it near and dear to my heart, because I don’t get that as often as most parents…And today I realized I had been holding on to a painting Sloan and I made back before she went to preschool – one that was just a blob of black and green paint – yet I couldn’t seem to get rid of it. But today, with piles of beautiful preschool work from Sloan on my fridge and walls, I gladly threw away the black, sad paint-blob…And I smiled as I did it because it was my own, twisted parent experience I thought I wouldn’t have!
So screw the systems and those societal expectations, man.
Anyway, with all that said, I wanted to share some of the highlights from Sloan’s own Christmas haul on Christmas Day this year. I think it truly shows the level of thought, effort, and care her Santas put in to gift-giving for Sloan – how they love Sloan for who Sloan actually is: supporting her in her interests and what she actually enjoys. I’m also mostly hoping this post serves as a space where others can get some ideas on what kinds of gifts could work for DeafBlind kids in their life – because I often hear how difficult it is to find toys and gifts for DeafBlind (or disabled) toddlers.
So here it is *drumroll plz* Sloan’s 2022 Christmas haul…
This busy board is great for kids who use their hands to explore and have a keen interest and focus in small details. Sloan has been showing interest in zippers, so I (Mom-Santa) specifically bought this board because it had a zipper on it – but there are so many great details she immediately picked up on: the chain lock included.
A great toy for the kid who loves sensory input and vibes of any kind. Rexton-Santa gave this one to Sloan: it was the perfect find, because most vibrating toys vibrate at one speed and don’t have a lot of texture or excitement that way. However, the vibrating face brush has a bunch of cool little bristles on one side, with some varying lines on the other side – and there are three different speeds for Sloan to check out!
Way to go Fisher-Price, making an inclusive wheelchair figurine in their Barbie Little People set for toddlers! This set came from Kassie-Santa – because a) Kassie and Kari played Barbies forever as kids, so Barbie will always be their thing and b) there was a WHEELCHAIR! So of course Sloan had to have the wheelchair-friendly Barbie set. Kassie-Santa also gifted Sloan a gift card to Mcdonald’s – because Sloan loves to take drives and have the kids pack of apples (yes you can order them separately from the kids meal), so now Sloan is set on apples (or appies as we like to call them) for a long time.
If you aren’t familiar with object cues and their function in communication, you can learn more here. We’ve been using these to help in developing Sloan’s communication for a couple years now, and they’ve become a staple in our home. Sloan’s grandma passed away in 2019 and so this year, for Christmas, Sloan’s Grandpa Paul made Sloan an object cue card in honor of grandma. The braille on the card reads “Grandma” and there is a small sewing machine that Sloan can feel to help in remembering her grandma. You can make your own tactile cards and object cue cards, too!
Talk about sensory-seeking fun: this one was a gift from Mom-Santa, and it made everyone’s Christmas too because it was a bit wild.
I had been on the hunt for a small toddler car that we could take on our local paved trail because I just knew Sloan would love riding around in something like that, but quickly realized they weren’t very accessible to Sloan. All of the toddler cars have foot pedals, steering wheels, etc. Plus very few cars came with parent remote controls. That’s where this Bumper Buddy came in – it was perfect. For Sloan to control the Bumper Buddy, all she needs to do is move the handles with her hands on each side of the bumper car to roll herself around – pushing forward goes forward, back goes backward. I can switch it to a function that allows me to control the bumper car from my own remote while she also has control: so it gives her ultimate independence, and if we end up in a precarious situation (which I know we will, because it’s Sloan) I can step in.
Really, really cool and much more accessible than most toddler car thingies.
These are just a few of the wonderful, stand-out gifts Sloan was given this year – but they are absolutely things you can order or make for the DeafBlind or sensory-seeking kid in your own life!
Here’s to stickittothemaneosis and never letting the system, or ableism, rain on your gift-giving and Christmas/holiday parade. Because damn it can still be fun.