Some may have noticed there are some changes to my site. It now has WordPress in the address as I am no longer paying for the pro account. I was not using it to the fullest extent as I should. Between school, extracurriculars and competitions, and downtime, I have not posted as much as I thought I would be able to.
I do still plan on reviewing board/card and video games and how they can benefit kids. We have a plethora we have not yet touched.
Our Facebook is still the same, that is the easiest way to reach out.
This may sound like the most cynical title, but we know it’s true. There are countless poems and songs with this very line in it. Lets talk about teaching special needs kids about money management and financial responsibility. I know many parents’ goals is to help foster independence with their special needs kiddo so they may be able to function as an adult with minimal help, or when it is our time to go… (I understand this isn’t possible for every situation, but these steps will help in higher functioning cases). This is also going to be a long article because there are options available. I’m doing the leg work so you don’t have to.
Step 1) Identify Your Biggest Hurdle:
This is key. Individuals with vision issues will need to learn how to use apps on their phones to identify and count money, along with being able to identify money by touch (there are many ideas on folding paper money differently based on its denomination). Individuals with intellectual disabilities or Autism often deal with concrete truths rather than abstract ideas. People with dyscalculia may need help with the money calculations, but may be able to understand the concept of money management.
Step 2) Start Early, Start Young
Teaching children to count is as natural as teaching them the alphabet, shapes or colors. However, most people don’t think about teaching them about money identification until the school starts doing it. Down here, it is in 1st and 2nd grade (two different ISD’s).
Something to keep in mind about teaching them about money early on is be aware of the play money. Up until recently most play money was brightly colored and looked nothing like real money. (to be honest, we do use these in lieu of an allowance, I will explain bellow). But they don’t help the kids learn how to identify money or count it. I had to find play money at Staples years ago. Now they’re everywhere and even Melissa and Doug has a nice set. If your child has learning issues, repetition is key, recognition is key, so getting something as close to the real thing as possible is important.
Take them to the store. It may make the store trip take longer, but once they understand the concept of counting and higher/lower or more/less, you can start teaching them about sales and to look on the price tags at price per oz and such so they can learn how to spend their money better. Just because it says it’s on sale doesn’t mean it’s a better deal than getting the larger pack… bulk shopping won’t save them any money if the products expire before they use them… teaching them what sales tax is (if you live in an area that has it). Teach them early the difference between “WANT” and “NEED”.
Step 3) Practice, Practice, Practice
Talking about money with your kids can get extremely stressful so here’s some ways to make it easier:
Some schools have classes they can take. Ours offers “Dollars and Sense.” Thing 1 took it last year, Thing 2 doesn’t want to waste the school hours on it as she’s aiming to take college courses by her senior year, so she’s wanting to learn outside of school. Thing 3 will probably take it in high school, unsure about the other 2.
Some SNAP (Special Needs Assistance Partners) offices offers life skills programs that focus on how to purchase items and services they may need. Including, but not limited to planning ahead, becoming familiar with prices, taxes, and budgeting.
¢ents and $ensibility. This is a guide for people with disabilities regarding money management. It can be used by the individual or by their family as a teaching tool.
Practical Money Skills is an entire website for kids, parents, and educators to learn about money management. Under the teaching tab, there are lessons for special needs kids.
Check with your caseworker or regional offices to see what classes are available in your area.
Hands on Practice:
Let your kid practice buying things in a store with you there. When you feel confident enough to give them more financial independence get them a “debit card” you can control remotely.
We use Greenlight for Thing 2. She is entering into high school and is in extra curriculars. She has the freedom to be able to walk to the convenience store with her friends and grab a snack. She can access her card via her account on her phone so she always knows her balance so she can budget. Her card has her face on it as a protection feature. Any money she earns, she gives to us and we “load” it onto her card. We can give her any additional funds we want or as needed. We also have the ability to shut off her card if she is grounded or it is missing (in her room) or is lost/stolen. We can also restrict her purchases to disallow certain stores or only allow certain stores. As the other kids get older, we will get them cards as well. There is a monthly fee, but it’s per family, not per kid and rivals that of a checking account. I like getting the alerts of her spending habits so we can talk about her financial decisions. “Thing 2 spent $2 at Taco Time.”
I do have a referral code for Greenlight, if you click on the link or scan the QR code, you will get $45 when you set up your account. (This is as I write this, the amount may change in the future, a couple of months ago it was $30).
Of course you knew we were going to get to this…. this list is taken from several websites, but I have weeded out the more advanced games and listed them in the honorable mentions. The following games are sorted by age per the manufacturer, as always, the suggested age doesn’t always fit the age of your child’s needs.
The allowance game
Ages 5-11, 2-4 players
Kids do chores to earn an allowance and can spend their money however they see fit.
Identify monetary values
Ages 5+, 2+ players
It plays like UNO, except it uses coins and money in place of numbers.
Buy it right
Ages 6+, 2-4 players
Kids learn how to make educated purchases and can set their own prices for items they sell. They learn how to correct errors.
Buy and sell
Identify monetary values
Ages 7+, 2-4 players
There’s not much to this game, except it a gamification way to encourage money recognition and counting of money. It also comes in a European “pounds” version.
Identify monetary values
ice cream empire
Ages 7+, 2-4 players
It’s a competitive game to build your ice cream franchise across the board. Order and sell your ice cream at varying rates depending on location. The player with the most profits wins.
Running a business
(Bonus) Geography US
Ages 8+, 2-4 players
This game IS about finances and budgeting. The game board is 31 days long, but you can decide how many months you want the game to last. Each “day” has events such as a buying “deal” or “mail” which includes everything from bills to insurance offers. It even includes loans with interests. It’s thorough.
Earn and save money
Basic money management
Ages 8+, 2-6 players
I’m sure everyone knows what Monopoly is…
How it helps: kids have to lean the importance of budgeting their spending so they don’t bankrupt themselves. Cheat your taxes? Go straight to jail, do not pass go, do not collect $200.
Real estate basics
Buying and selling
(bonus) Anger management
(addl bonus) Who plays cut throat?
Confession, I refuse to play the board game because I am mean. I prefer playing the computer game because then I don’t have puppy dog eyes staring at me as I destroy them.
The Game of LIFE
Ages 8+, 2-4 players
Granted LIFE is more of a game of chance, you don’t manage your money as much as make decisions that impact your financial outcomes. They learn the financial consequences of losing a job, “kids are expensive pets”, car and mortgage payments, taxes, debt. Oh, the joys of life.
Assets vs liability in a visual manner
This game is the most replaced game in our home due to tiny pieces… tbh, we haven’t replaced it…
Budget town and budget city
Budget Town: Ages 5+, 2-6 players
Budget City: Ages 8+, 2-6 players
These games are unique as as they were designed with special needs individuals in mind. Budget Town focuses on cash transactions. Budget City is more advanced, even includes five difficulty levels so you can tailor the game to the abilities of the player. This game introduces checks, credit cards, interest rates on savings accounts, in addition to cash. This teaches concepts like budgeting and banking.
Identify monetary values
Basic money management
Intro to banking
I was going to list a bunch of other games, but after listing 20 games, I deleted this whole section except ones I actually own or have played and can tell you why I can’t recommend them.
Act Your Wage (not a bad game, but you’re not supposed to go under your emergency fund… which is $1000… a disabled person on SSI disability is only allowed to have $2000 in assets. This game could cause undue anxiety as a result of unreasonable expectations if they expect to have a minimum of $1000 in their bank at all times.)
Catan (I like it, but it’s more bartering goods than money)
Machi Koro (no negative value repercussions, click for full review)
Video games are an excellent resource for kids to learn money management skills. There are no real life repercussions so they can learn from their mistakes in a safe environment without harsh consequences.
I discussed this list with the kids. We decided we would not list any games where you get money or loot from killing things, as that’s just not how things work in real life… so most RPGs are out, even if the store or trade system is excellent, but we just don’t see many treasure chests fall out of mobile skeletons these days. (There may be exceptions to these rules). I know people will say there are good sports games that teach money values, but we have no sports games in the home, so I cannot judge them.
Ages Teen (due to WooHoo/sexual themes, crude humor/cartoon mischief, violence). Note: all “nudity” is pixilated out. However, there are mods out on the internet… so make sure you pay attention if your kid is computer savvy.
The Sims is probably one of the most expensive and expansive universes out there. The base game of any of them has you design your sim and you start from scratch. You have to help you Sim budget their funds to buy their first home, pay their bills, buy food, get a job, and slowly improve their skills so they can get promotions and find new opportunities. Through the series, more career paths have opened, reactions and AI are more realistic.
Thing 4 and I love playing this game. We still don’t have all the DLCs because it never ends.
Ages Everyone (except maybe one haunted house…)
The name is the game. Your job is to flip houses. Some have specific jobs they want you to do, some are yours free to design. There are several free and paid DLC available. The developer is also great and dropping a free special event house on occasion (holiday houses). This game teaches hard work yields results and when you “study” your market, you can yield higher profits. (Potential buyers tell you what they like and dislike). I will do a grander review of this game at a later date.
Money management, you can run out even on a job
You can set the currency (which is a cool feature so you can see average exchange rates)
The potential of real estate investment
Thing 2, 4, 5 and I love this game.
Ages 10+ (mild comical violence)
The game revolves around you rebuilding a farm and completing tasks. You use the money you earn and (should) invest it into better equipment so you can complete your tasks more efficiently.
Investing = potential
Thing 2 did a power point presentation to us parents on why she should have this game and why it isn’t a “dumb dumb game”. She loves the game.
This game disguises personal finances into a quaint adventure game. It’s not all fun and games, cutesy quests and décor
Mortgage, but without interest
the “Stalk” market
Thing 1 has every Animal Crossing game. Thing 2 has a few, loves New Horizon. Thing 4 originally had New Horizon, but got so frustrated with the game, she gave it to Thing 2.
Ages 10+ (alcohol and tobacco, simulated gambling, mild language, mild blood, fantasy violence)
Stardew Valley is a retro style game but with more modern color palates, making it beautiful. You manage a farm. Like most games on this list, you start with a very limited budget where you have to balance running the farm day to day and investing to improve it.
Thing 5 loves this game. It’s growing on me as I grew up with Harvest Moon.
Ages Teen (Fantasy Violence, alcohol, mild language, mild blood)
I wish I could say I was joking by adding this one to the list, but I’m not. It’s a weird one, it’s not for everyone. You are sucked into a portal and end up as a graveyard keeper. You make money by running your graveyard and other businesses, whether they be ethical or not is up to you. Hire (reanimate) workers to run your farm… (they’re zombies).
The DLC’s don’t add to the money bit, but are great. Thing 2 and I love this game.
Almost any Real Time Strategy game
This isn’t all of them by any means, but these were the first ones we could think of
Age of Empires franchise
WarCraft (not to be confused with WOW)
Any Tycoon game (Zoo Tycoon, Prison Tycoon, Hospital Tycoon, Roller Coaster Tycoon etc)
Step 4) Stress the Difference of Plastic and Virtual Money
The most common issue I see is special needs individuals struggle understanding that credit/debit cards or electronic payments hold the same value as physical cash. Physically show your child your statements with the corresponding receipt so they can see they are connected. This is why I am such a fan of Greenlight over using a gift card. Thing 2 gets real time updates on her account balance when she uses her card. Even though she doesn’t physically have cash in hand, it is a constant reminder how much she really has.
Explain that using credit cards is a loan and you have to pay all the money back with interest. And always, ALWAYS talk about keeping card and pin numbers safe. Explain the scariest monsters in life are people (sadly) and there will always be people who will try to take advantage of their money either from your kiddo’s kindness or outright stealing from them. I admit this is always one of the hardest conversations I have.
Step 5) Mistakes Happen, so Let’s Catch Them While They Have Us
Every human being, even those without special needs will make financial mistakes. I remember running out of gas and it was a couple days until pay day and my mom having to drive 45 min to rescue my hide. College life, am I right? Who has gone through a phase of living on ramen and boxed m&c? Who is still in that phase not by choice? (not you Thing 1)
As you work with your kiddo, you will notice their financial strengths and weaknesses. Praise them for their strengths and continue to help them adapt with their weaknesses. Talk to them when they make mistakes, you don’t want them to be afraid of money or independence. Fostering independence will give them the best shot at life.
School has ended. We unfortunately lost our older dog, Chessie, to a brain tumor. I won’t get into the specifics because it will make everyone cry, but I just wanted to explain my further delay in writing.
I’ve found as much as I wanted to do YouTube reviews, I cannot stand watching myself to edit them. I have no issues talking about games or answering questions, but I cannot spend hours editing myself. So for sanity purposes, I will rarely be posting videos.
As the daily temperatures are over 100, we cannot spend much time outside. So, [insert] indoor activities including gaming. A year ago, I did a blog on the benefits of video gaming in special needs communities. I said then I would do a review of older systems like the Nintendo Wii, the Sony PlayStation Move, and the Microsoft Kinect. I meant to do this in the height of the pandemic, but a heat wave seems like a good time, as well. (Due to the number of tables in this blog, I strongly suggest viewing this on a computer or in computer mode. I know all the lines are off in mobile version. It works okay on my husband’s android, and not well on iphone).
Why review old systems?
These systems were made with movements in mind using the TV screen. Unlike the newer switch, these were more durable… they were just built to last. Because they are older, if you go to a retro gaming store, you will often find these systems and games more affordable, which is a necessity for families with special needs kiddos.
I have owned all three.
Can be used for rehab/therapy
Low cost, everything is a set
Gamification of motor rehab
Lots of cool accessories… sports and car shaped ones… all sold separately
Can download retro Nintendo games for it…
Not suitable for all conditions, requires hand use.
Requires calibration for every player
Large amount of titles appropriate for children
Base set doesn’t work well for full body movement, can be fooled and play while laying down and use like a remote control
The Wii remote uses infrared lighting and detection on the bar… its similar to the same technology as modern tv remotes (think Roku, they often use IR) and sometimes you push the button several times because of interference. This means basic interface… up, down, left, right sensors.
My personal experience with this was I could never get the sensor quite right. I was constantly having to re-calibrate it. We were largely not able to enjoy the more physically oriented games on it, and ended up playing some MySims games on it, thinking we needed to get used to the controllers. After beating those at 100% (while laying down with our arms propped on pillows because pointing the controller at the TV was never at the correct angle…) we decided to sell the system. Unless you get it to play old Nintendo games, I cannot recommend it for physical activity, especially a special needs kid. I want to foster enjoyment and independence, not frustration.
When I had mine, they didn’t have recharging stations for the controllers, I used rechargeable batteries. You are expected to change the batteries… constantly. The battery life didn’t last long with them.
Some people swear by the Wii… others have tried the other 2 I’m about to talk about and don’t look back…
Rechargeable controllers, either plug into the system while it is on or use a charging station! 10 hour battery.
The PS Eye (camera) can locate the glowing orb in a 3D space, meaning not only can it tell where you are left and right, up and down, it can tell how close or far away you are.
High precision and accuracy
Rumble pack for player feedback
Unique accessories, all sold separately.
Compatibility: the Move controllers work on the PS3, the PS4, and the PS VR. (This means they’re not obsolete).
Requires a PS3 or PS4
Sold separately from the PS console.
The PS Eye camera is not compatible across platforms, make sure you get the correct one for your console.
Joystick controller sold separately
Few games available outside of the use of “for the sake of gaming”
I thoroughly enjoy the Move. We have the joystick controller and the Wonderbook to go along with it. There are not enough Wonderbook titles, IMHO.
Here is a list of our favorite therapy friendly Move games:
What is it?
You are a student at Hogwarts and attend spell classes. Your controller is your wand and the Wonderbook is your spell book.
10+, 7 in UK
This game is one of the most gentle games there is. It does use the wand controller, but it doesn’t require the joystick controller. The entire game is played while seated in augmented reality.
Love, love, LOVE this game. I will admit, I wasn’t a good student. I apparently almost always caught the drapes on fire when using Incendio… thus losing house points. LOL. While progressing through the story line, the book reads lore from the Potterverse aloud with animation styles similar to the story of the Deathly Hallows. Not enough games like this. I have embedded a video at the end of this section regarding the making of this game.
Once again at Hogwarts, this time in Potions class… with your Wonderbook acting as your potions guide.
10+, 7 in UK
This is still a sit down game requiring the lone orb controller.
To be completely honest, this is a beast to find reasonably priced in the US, easy in the UK. We don’t have it, but want it terribly. As I’ve stated, there are not enough Wonderbook games, only 4, and of those 4, we are truly only interested in 2.
you follow a fun side story and play as Aragorn and Gandalf, the controller acting as a sword and staff.
2 player co-op
T for Teen for Fantasy Violence.
This does require both the orb controller and the joystick controller. Can be played seated the entire time. Easy enough my mother could play (with anoxic brain injury and mild strokes).
Most of the other Move games we have are for playing games. There is a variety of fantasy games where you use the controllers as wands or swords, most can be played while seated, which would work for wheel chair bound individuals. Most of these games are rated Teen and Mature, so outside the Wonderbook, a Move may not be the move you want to make until your kids are older, unless you also play.
No controller needed! Just need the camera (If you don’t have voice set up, you may need the controller to get games started)
Has voice control you can use on many menus, including main menu of system.
Can be played in med and low lit rooms, will let you know if it needs more lighting.
Each gamer profile can be configured to fit the gamer’s physical needs. The Kinect will also auto recognize them.
No accessories needed.
Microsoft has designed games with the idea of therapy in mind, not only helping with coordination and mobility, but social skills and the ability to bond with their peers over video games.
Camera sold separately, not compatible with multiple platforms. Sold separately for Xbox 360, Xbox One, and Windows.
Does not do well with tons of light, so cannot be played outside.
The more players you add, the more difficulty the Kinect has with tracking. Optimum is 1-2 players. 4 can be chaos, but is still fun.
Many games require the use of legs
More Kinect games are available for the 360 than the other platforms.
The Kinect is hands down our favorite. We originally got it for Thing 2 as a gift for physical therapy, which she was attending weekly. We lived in the south east on an island and she has a severe mosquito allergy. She had to stay indoors most of the time. The Kinect was a life saver.
We have a LOT of Kinect games, a majority of them being dance games because there’s no controllers! I will list some of the more unique ones outside of dance games, because I feel that genre is self explanatory. (Most of the dance games can host up to 4 players).
What is it?
Fantasia: Music Evolved follows more conductor type movements. During musical pieces, from classical to modern music, players can modify it with different styles and featuring different instruments. The combinations are near endless, allowing for enjoyable repeat gameplay for music lovers.
The campaign mode is solo. There is a co-play mode, but the story is so much better played solo.
Rated 10+ due to some lyrics.
While it is designed to be played standing like a conductor, you can do this sitting, however, you may need some adjustments to allow for all the arm movements.
This is Thing 3’s favorite Kinect game. The music is pretty enjoyable. I would have loved to have had more classical music. This game is largely underrated and we wish there was a sequel.
This game is the virtual theme park. The rides are mini-games. There are tons of things to do if you or the child isn’t particularly active that day, like search for hidden Mickey’s, collect autographs and photos, hug your favorite characters.
This CAN be played with 2 players, but works best with 1.
I don’t know why it says E10+, it’s 7+ in other countries. Thing 2 played it at age 4.
When “walking” around the park, only arms are needed, we have played it sitting down, but the mini games are often full body.
Not only does this game encourage physical movement within your favorite Disney movies, it encourages social skills as your character interacts with the park characters. An example is you can ask for a hug either verbally or with specific non-verbal gestures. It reinforces waving hello and goodbye, shaking hands, etc. This was used as part of therapy for Thing 2. Other than the mini games, the background noises of the “park” while walking around are not overwhelming.
I will admit I played it in the middle of the night, I wanted all the autographs. ~sheepish grin~
This is somewhat like the Disneyland one, but with Pixar characters and less focus on a theme park, more on the minigames.
Up to 2 players.
E for Everyone.
While cute, we definitely enjoyed Disneyland Adventures over this one. It was missing the magical feeling in the park. I know it sounds silly, since its a virtual park, but I’m just being honest.
This game follows the Fable trilogy as a mage, but less choices, more path led… so no more “Chicken Chaser.”
Solo play only.
Rated Teen (12+ in other areas): mild blood, mild language, violence
This game is made to be played while sitting. I will admit it is quite physical in the arms and upper body. I used this as part of my rehab and it was very affective, made me very sore.
While this game is not designed for kids, not only small kids have disabilities. This is story enriched and is beautiful to look at. There wasn’t anything majorly offensive I needed to worry about for my kids (unlike the original trilogy).
Run a big cat and bear sanctuary and feed/train the animals.
It’s a better version of Nintendogs, Catz/Dogz…
Rated E for Everyone.
Most care can be done while sitting. Some of the training requires full body movements and speech.
This is a cute game, also probably one of the quietest games we have. The background sounds are peaceful without tons of music. Both Thing 2 and Thing 4 had issues with sensory overload when they were younger. This game was Thing 4’s favorite.
4 ways to play:
Jedi Destiny: Main story mode, become a padawan, use a lightsaber and the force to find your destiny.
Podracing: it’s racing podracers.
Rancor Rampage: mind control a Rancor and have them crush, crumble, and chomp.
Galactic Dance-Off: It’s a dancing game with parodies of modern music with Star Wars themed lyrics…
Co-op 2 players
Up to 4 for the dancing.
Rated T for Teen: Mild Lyrics, Blood, Violence
(If your kid is a huge Star Wars fan, this game is the least of your worries).
Depends on which mode you play. Podracing and Rancors require arm movements, while Jedi Destiny will require more movements overall. Dance obviously requires full body movements.
I’ll admit, this game has some issues. If you are not a die hard Star Wars fan, pass and pass hard. The jedi controls are weird and cause some funny antics. We spend more time laughing at each other than we do actually progressing in the game.
I can think of better racing games than podracing… I like Rancors. ~shrug~
The dancing is debatable on whether it’s meant to be B-rated movie bad or Star Wars Holiday Special bad. I like B-rated movies. I haven’t been able to make it thought the Holiday Special in one setting yet. I was originally semi excited thinking of the cantina and Star Wars Galaxies… thought I’d get to be a Twi’lek dancer. Was in shock to see a bunch of storm troopers and bounty hunters dancing.
The Kinect is more versatile with a large game library, especially on the 360. I would suggest this route when looking into a physical video game.
Sony PlayStation Move
Makes a better gaming system than a therapy adjunct.
The Wonderbook is amazing, but not enough titles for it.
Controllers are rechargable
Few child titles.
Excellent games that can be played from a seated or wheelchair position, but requires finger use for button.
Lots of titles for kids of varying ages
Most games cannot be played seated
Almost half the game titles are exercise or dance games…
There are some really cool adult titles as well… we need exercise, too (Elder Scrolls V, to name one).
Since my last post, it’s been difficult to do any reviews. To be completely honest, we haven’t been playing many games. It’s been a struggle to get Thing 2’s grades up from the 1st semester so she could participate in the heavy duty band competitions (no pass/no play) and keep the grades up, while not having the other kids feel neglected. Sauin killed most of the plants, so to destress, I have been crocheting some fake plants he can’t kill… plus I can do that in the waiting rooms of the doctor offices.
We cleared out some of the games no one wants to play or kids outgrew during spring break… so here is part 2 of the Game Graveyard.
Game Graveyard/Retired Games:
Hedbanz and Hedbanz Act Up:
Ages 7+, 2-6 Players
Ages 8+, 2-6 Players
Instructions for Hedbanz:
Cards are shuffled and placed into a pile in the middle of the table. Players are given 3 tokens. You play “20 questions” while wearing the headband with a card on your head. if you guess correctly, you get rid of a token. If you give up, you take a token. The one to lose all their tokens first wins.
Those plastic headbands are a torture device. They never soften up, they stay perfectly round and are not human shaped what so ever. We even wore them over winter hats, baseball caps, etc, and still can’t tolerate them for very long. The novelty wears off very quickly. The game is also very frustrating when you have some kids who intentionally answer incorrectly or who don’t know the answer to your question, but refuse to say, “I don’t know”, so you or the other players will get frustrated when fruits/veggies are answered incorrectly or doesn’t know the difference between an herbivore or a carnivore. This game caused more fights among the kids than I like to admit. Was more fun with adults.
Instructions for Hedbanz Act Up:
This time the headbands are color coded with a matching dice. Each player gets 12 tokens to start. Shuffled cards are placed into a center pile. Each player grabs a card and places it in their headband. On a player’s turn, they roll the dice and that color shown will be the “actor” for a game of charades. (if the player’s own color is rolled or your have less than 6 players and no one is playing the rolled color, everyone is the actor). The player has 20 seconds to guess. If they guess correctly, the player and actor get to return a token to the “bank”. If they don’t guess, nothing happens.
Now you have those uncomfortable headbands on while moving around… and they fall off and come undone while moving around. We ended up not wearing them. Good idea, poor execution.
Ages 8+, Solo
It’s not really a “game” per say. Yes, you can play retro style platform games on IOS and through Google Play, but it is also a game design program. You can build and play the games in the browser of the PC, but won’t by able to use the Bloxels sets. Those require the cameras on the smart phones and tablets. It is an output for kids to learn how to design and animate sprites (the characters), the environment, and the gameplay.
I can’t rave enough about this game/app.
Thing 4 started with this, but we have decided to no longer to keep buying iPads and have moved her to PC. She has since started to learn how to program games on Scratch and Python. She hasn’t decided if she wants to continue with Bloxels on PC since it now requires a membership.
With Bloxels, she has done some amazing stuff, like animating coins, making them spin as they did in the old Mario games, she’s made a mermaid’s tail swish while swimming… it’s amazing what she’s accomplished. Her favorite thing to work on is animating sprites. Bloxels is available for individual use or for use in the schools.
No Thank You Evil:
Ages 5 to Infinity, 2-5 Players or the Whole Family
It’s essentially D&D for kids… the stories are whimsical, the character classes are already flashed out, you can have pets if your kids understands the mechanics… It even teaches your child how to be a DM if they choose to go that route when they get older.
Super cute game. As a D&D fan, I enjoyed it and thought it was well executed and know several families of neurotypical kids who thoroughly enjoy it.
That being said, I do not have have neurotypical kids and found it to be a struggle. I was hoping it may help foster critical thinking skills and found it ended up causing more stress than not.
Example: There’s a scenario where they enter a dark room. They have a back pack (that’s essentially a bag of infinite holding) and in it is some stuff including a flashlight. I’m playing with 4 kids… not a single one use the flashlight. I remind them they can use their items. All of them said their items won’t be useful. I again remind them to look in their backpack. They refuse to use the flashlight. I flat out tell them to use one of their items… after telling them the 5th time and them repeatedly telling me they don’t need to, I had them lose a hit point for stubbing their toes for stumbling in the dark. To which 1 cried, 2 quit, and 1 didn’t understand… needless to say, its been a few years. Thing 2 wants to try it again. I’m hesitant, but I guess we will.
The next 6 weeks we will be flying by the seat of our pants… Here’s to hoping I can start getting some gaming in this summer.
Today is World Functional Neurological Disorder Day. Thing 2 (Piper) was one of the people living with FND featured in an informational video. Her quote can be hard to read on smart phones, but says, “Everyone, regardless of ability or disability, has strengths and weaknesses. Know what yours are. Build on your strengths and find a way around your weaknesses.” The quote is from award winning teacher and author of Front of the Class, Brad Cohen. (Book and movie about his struggles as a child and young adult pursuing his dreams to become a teacher because of having Tourette Syndrome.)
I’m sure most people are wondering why I’d make a post about laundry, but this site isn’t for or about “most people”. Special needs families often come across issues regarding laundry, sometimes it’s contact allergies, but the most common complaint is odor. We deal with body fluid more than most, spilled food, pet messes (because we have one cat who insists on peeing on everything that smells like human pee.)
Odors (meh, I’ll include stains in here, works the same):
In our house, we deal with night incontinency due to spinal cord damage, feeding difficulties resulting in spilled food, nose bleeds, hyper-diaphoresis (extra sweaty), teens/puberty, IBS, a senior dog, and that damn cat.
Separate your soiled clothes from the regular laundry: if anything is soiled with body fluids other than sweat and I can’t wash it immediately, I have a basket in the garage for soiled laundry. This helps maintain a fresh smelling house and keeps the damn cat away from it.
Rinse the mess: this is a must with blood or feces. They have to be hand rinsed first in cold water. For best results with dried blood, you can soak it in cold water overnight.
Wash with an enzyme destroyer: for said soiled laundry we use Nature’s Miracle, which is made for pets. It works great on human messes, too. Having worked in healthcare, I have used Odoban, but I have found that Nature’s Miracle works better (Odoban is also associated with that classic nursing home smell for me, which also still smells like human body fluids, so I can’t get on board). Also, if ANYTHING is strong enough to work on cat pee, it will definitely work on human… I fill the detergent area of the washer with the Nature’s Miracle, add NOTHING ELSE. Put the setting on the longest wash cycle you have, including soak, tons of agitation, and 2-3 rinses. I rarely have to re-wash them after this unless the laundry was urine soaked and sat for a while. (Anyone have kids that hide their clothes after an accident? We do!)
Wash other clothes, or wash again with a detergent that contains baking soda, AND use laundry sanitizer (not bleach): I have found Arm & Hammer works the best, even when I’ve used the unscented detergent. We also have several skin allergies and so far, no-one in the family is allergic to it. Lysol and Clorox both have laundry sanitizers Lysol is currently the only one with a hypoallergenic formula and kills more things than just bacteria (so I recommend Lysol). These kill 99.9% of all bacteria, including odor causing bacteria that like to sit in your sweaty or soiled clothes. Since COVID, these are often sold out in stores, but I highly recommend them. Use them in place of bleach for your washing machine.
Fabric softener and scent beads: If everyone in your family can tolerate them, I recommend using both, they keep clothes smelling fresh longer and they’re softer for people who have sensitivities to fabrics. I get the scent beads with Febreze in it, it also helps block odors. (NOTE: if you use either on materials meant to be absorbent, they will be less absorbent. IE, towels won’t dry you as well.)
You can use the Enzyme Destroyer with your spot cleaner/carpet cleaner (Bissel or whatever). It works far superior to the “pet mess” formula that they make in their brand. You can also pour it directly onto a mess, and then use a wet dry vac after it sits. Can be rinsed the same way.
Detergent and sanitizer
fabric softener and beads
I prefer Downy over other brands. My grandmother always used Snuggle when I was growing up, and I found it flaired my eczema.
Besides the washing methods above, the only prevention is soiling prevention.
Waterproof mattresses are made with incontinency issues in mind. They often come in a variety of styles and sizes depending on how long the person is staying in bed or how soiled the bed might become. These are more comfortable than hospital mattresses and sometimes still fall under DME for insurances. You can often count it as a medical expense if you are purchasing out of pocket. Logo’s below have links to their sites.
Of course, if you can’t afford a waterproof mattress, you can make your current mattress waterproof with mattress protectors.
Easy to clean:
Vinyl or plastic covers are the easiest to clean by simply wiping them down, but if you have a person that sleeps hot, these will trap the heat in and can make them extra sweaty.
These are more comfortable to sleep in, hands down. Everyone in our house has at least one of these on their beds just in case of spills or accidents (even us adults). The downside is if you want to have them lasting a while, they need to air dry, meaning you will often need more than one. The drier will break down the waterproofing and it will fall apart over time. Also, you get what you pay for. Cheaper ones, especially the ones with the lining will break apart over time if the sleeper is a restless sleeper (one kid shreds theirs in their sleep).
Get the crappy vinyl or plastic waterproof one for those who regularly soil or heavily soil their beds. Then put a plush waterproof one over that. The plush one can be washed, the other stays on the bed… and have extras of the plush one so you can easily remake the bed without worrying about accidents while it’s in the laundry.
My suggestion is don’t use these unless traveling, or use on furniture and not the bed. If you use them on the bed, put them under the sheet above the mattress protector, but don’t have them make skin contact.
There’s your standard fabric, washable chuck pads that are available almost everywhere. They have fabric toppers and vinyl lining. I’m not the biggest fan of these. The fabric is often stiff or scratchy which doesn’t work for people with sensory issues. I admit, I got spoiled with fabric ones from Babies’R’Us years ago that have the waterproof material sandwiched between layers of soft fabric. Alas, Babies’R’Us is no more, but I’ve come to love Target’s brand. They’re super soft and huge! (Koala Baby is the brand we used to use. They have branched out to other stores, but their waterproof pads are often out of stock, they do have waterproof mattress protectors for crib/toddler mattresses and they work great!)
The link contains instructions to make your own. They are double layered, but if you want to hide that waterproof layer, all you would have to do is put fabric on the other side as well.
Although I am inclusive to all gender types, incontinence underwear is often designed for the plumbing a person has, not how they identify. So please understand when I say boy/men, it means there is more protection in the front and girl/women has more protection between the legs. Shop accordingly. Many brands may be designed for women, but have options such as boxer briefs/boy shorts. There aren’t many other options for men other than boxer briefs or briefs.
These include toddler training underpants, overnight underwear, and adult ones. There are many brands, they’re available almost everywhere, AND they are covered under DME by your insurance (unless you have Tricare because they won’t cover ANYTHING regarding incontinency).
I recommend these for night time use as they hold more than “leak proof” cloth underwear. Daytime use if the person wearing them has absolutely no control.
Bladder leakage pads also offer some protection and fit in normal underwear or can be layered in disposable underwear for extra overnight protection.
Outside of the bulky training pants you see for toddlers, finding these are hard in child sizes. They’re great for minor leaks and they fit just like regular underwear, so it boosts their confidence. There are more available in adult sizes, but you have to filter through all the period underwear. The fabrics are also better for skin. Do not use fabric softener with absorbent materials, they will lessen the absorbency.
I do not recommend the plastic underwear covers. They trap heat and moisture in and create the perfect breeding ground for infections.
There are many types advertised as incontinence underwear, but unless it specifically lists the amount of absorbency it has, they are only meant to be worn WITH a pad or some other kind of protection. It’s very misleading. Also note sizes are weird. When I write teen, some of them start at 14-16, others as small as 10-12.
Some popular brands are:
There just aren’t many options.
There are more products for women than men. I don’t know if this is because leakage is more common in women or men just don’t talk about it.
I’m sure there are others, but those are the ones I hear the most about or can read reviews easily for.
I know this post was absolutely no fun, but I hope it helps in some way.
Christmas is over. We got a bunch of new games we don’t have room for. That means we need to stop getting games.
Yeah, no. We retire games. Some games are packed away for future grandkids that we can’t part with because they have sentimental value, but the kids have all outgrown, others we pass down to other kids in the family or family friends when ours have outgrown them. It’s a great tradition. So before these games leave our house, I can talk about why.
Ages 4+, 2-4 Players
Just like regular Skip-Bo, but with open hand of 3 cards. If you can’t play the 3 cards, you deal more cards onto those 3 cards (there is no discard stack in front of you unlike Skip-Bo). Cards go up to 10 instead of 12, there are still wild cards. The first player to get rid of their cards wins.
I’m not a fan. I was raised with Skip-Bo since I was a small child. We did open hand. The rules made this over simplified without the stack to pull from. Also, having Thing 2 and Thing 4 with Autism, they were overly distracted by the bugs on the cards (already knowing their numbers). We found it easier to just pull out cards 1-10 of the original Skip-Bo deck and play the original game with modified rules.
When I remarried and had step kids, never played it with them, always played the original Skip-Bo. It might work better with neuro typical kids or kiddos with different issues.
Clue Junior, the Case of the Missing Prizes (note, there are tons of Clue Juniors): (Cludo for everywhere else in the world)
Ages 5+, 2-4 Players, 20 min average playtime.
Each player moves their character around the board trying to get to ride at the carnival (where the clue cards are). When you arrive, you can look at the clue cards and mark them off your clue sheet. After every player has taken their turn, they put a “guess” token in the “guess” slots guessing who and when the prizes were stolen (and where for advanced games). You play until all 10 tokens are used (9 for advanced games). Reveal the winner by opening the “truth envelope”. Place the gold tokens in the matching slots. Which ever player that placed the most guess tokens in that guess tray wins!
So, I had seen some Clue kid games where it was a nice intro to Clue, it still had the paper check off sheet they had to fill out and it was still basically the same game, but easier… this wasn’t that game.
The guessing part ruined it. One of the kids hated it so much, to prove a point, they wouldn’t ever move their character to find clues, they would just make guesses based on other players guesses and they won 1/3 of the time. The game sucks. If we ditched the guessing part, it was ok…. do your research and get a different Clue Junior game.
I won’t be passing this one on to a family member… I loathe it so.
Eye Found It! Disney:
Ages 4+, 1-6 Players
Each player chooses a character mover. Start on the “Start” space. Use the “search cards” to find your objects, mark them with your markers (mouse ears for Disney). Race to the castle before the clock reaches midnight. If one player makes it, everyone wins (teamwork).
We loved this game. The board is 6 feet long. This allowed for several players room to play and for them to easily cooperate by designating search areas. It was an easy enough game where they could play on their own as well. That being said, my kids also love ISpy, Look and Find, and Where’s Waldo… We did have to forgo the small timer during searching, it did not do well for the kids with anxiety.
Searching games help with memory, focus, object identification, reading skills, matching skills, and this one in particular helps with teamwork and cooperation. This game has lead to a love of Hidden Object Games for some of the kids. (see my review about HOGs).
We are debating on passing this down in the family or packing it up for future grandkids. Oh the choices… but will I want to get on the floor by then… hmmmm…
Most of these are also available in card/travel form as well.
Ages 16+, 4+ Players (team play)
Reader’s Digest Version: It’s a party game, split off into teams, pairs are ideal. There are 4 categories, art, acting, trivia, and words/english. The rules are a combination of other games based on which section you are in…
There is another version for players 8+
I thoroughly enjoyed Cranium when it came out in 1998 and throughout college. That being said, it is not the game for us in my family setting. Having children who are NOT neurotypical, they do not switch from subject to subject well, and some struggle in other subjects and want to avoid them completely. This game ends up being the source of a lot of anxiety for them. That’s not what gaming is about.
Thing 2 Update:
Thing 2 had surgery on her sinus. she is miserable, but not as miserable as she was. she can finally smell again, meaning she can also taste food. Her chronic headache is finally gone. Although she is in pain from her surgery, it is a different kind of pain. I look forward to seeing how she progresses from here.
Sorry this is a short update, but I haven’t slept much as I was stressed prepping for her surgery. Hope to get back into a schedule soon.
I was recently reminded of this game when my dad and I were talking about Spore because one of the kids was playing it. This, of course, led to a conversation about various evolution theories…
So, this sandbox game has been released in 2017 under two different names: Happy Birthdays on the Nintendo Switch, and Birthdays the Beginning on the PS4 and PC (via Steam). They are all the same game, the only difference is the platform it’s being played on. The creator is Yasuhiro Wada, known for his work on Story of Season (aka Harvest Moon) and Little Dragons Cafe.
But what is it?
The premise of the game is you find one of your grandfather’s books and inside is a magic map to an uncharted planet. You are transported to said new land and have been promoted from a child into a deity where you get to terraform your land.
Add water, determine how deep or shallow you want it. Add hills and mountains, the possibilities are endless. However, what you do to your land directly affects what species are able to live. If not enough food sources are available, species can die. Temperature changes will alter what type of land it is (snowy, tropical, desert, etc), and ultimately determine what species are available to you. You will also affect evolution with your changes. Species already present may change to adapt, while you can end up with totally new species.
There are several different playable elements to the game. There are the standard and timed missions you can complete, hidden achievements, and completing your evolution chart. When a new organism shows up, you “take a picture” in game and it is automatically studied and is added to your data.
The most common complaints I hear about the game are the graphics. The game was designed using clay figures so you can turn the camera at any angle and your animals and plants will still maintain their shape integrity. Unlike many sim games, you are in control of the camera, rather than having a static view. You essentially have an active 3D model of a diorama.
Please note, this game is not considered an educational game. That being said, it does contain basic elements in regards to evolution, ecosystems, habitats, and is a nice intro for learning how to identify organisms (via their data cards, which are mostly comparable to organisms of the same species not in game.) It is possible for extinct animals to reappear once the ecosystem fits their needs, which can be amusing if you have humans on your planet.
The tutorial walks you through everything
The tutorial is not skippable
The evolutionary tree gives tips on how to evolve new organisms
Sometimes you have to wait billions of years for that new evolution to trigger (most often it is due to a lacking population of a food source)
Excellent music, very relaxing (link is to entire soundtrack)
… that you can listen to while waiting for things to evolve
You can see changes happening real time
Which may not work for a child with attention span issues
The game gets more challenging to balance the ecosystems as organisms advance (critical thinking and problem solving)
Some children may need help
There are “rare” species to find, thus making the game challenging and ongoing once the missions are already beat
Currently there are only 10 missions, but they take a long time to complete each one. Don’t worry about someone beating this game within a couple of hours…
The game has a story line behind it, unlike most sandbox games
But the story line isn’t the heavy part of the game and you will often even forget the story as you play.
DLC’s for placing objects in your world (and possibly more missions) are planned for release.
PS4 has 9 cosmetic DLC’s available, where as PC has one so far.
Currently, if you beat the entire game and fill out the evolutionary tree, there is little replay value. At least as an adult, the kids haven’t filled out the tree yet.
It’s a cute game worth looking into, especially if you are trying to get your child interested in science or they already are. You are rewarded for your critical thinking and hard work vs many instant reward games you see on smart devices.
Currently prices vary for digital downloads, $40 on PS4, $40 on Nintendo Switch, and $20 on Steam. Physical copies for PS4 can be harder to come by, but used ones are usually under $20, where as used games for the Nintendo Switch are often more expensive than the digital download. (If you do find one cheap, it’s often not in English, so be alert).
There’s a heatwave everywhere. Our gaming area (and my filming area) is near windows and with the removal of several trees thanks to the winter storm and our tiny tornado, we have a lot more sun. This makes the house hot. Thing 2 and I have fans running almost where ever we go. This has made it hard to do some board gaming.
I have allowed more video games during this time. I found myself busy with crafts and working on links for special needs camps (available on the links page). I’d be doing more crafts, except my fingers have blisters.
What are HOGs?
HOGs are an acronym for Hidden Object Games (not to be confused with the hog pictured). The object of the game is to literally find objects hidden in pictures, some games will include puzzles with them. I’m sure you’ve seen tons of adverts for HOGs on your smart devices that require energy to play. Once you run out of energy, you have to come back later. I find these games annoying. Good news is there are full games that you can purchase and never have to worry about energy.
The history of HOGs
Hidden object books were the first in this genre. The oldest being Where’s Waldo in 1987. (I thought I had all the books, but apparently 2 more were released in the 2000’s…). I Spy followed suit in 1992. Look and Find decided to follow up and incorporated major franchises into their hunting books. These books are still popular today.
Then came the disaster of the Saturday Morning cartoons trying to bring the books to the “boobtube”. Followed yet again, by more disasters of HOGs on early platform gaming.
Case in point, the original Nintendo, aka NES, released the Where’s Waldo game. Even if you were a master at the books, the pixilation, the poor movement controls, plus the timer made this game extremely stressful and unenjoyable for many. It’s right up there with Atari’s ET in my opinion.
Thankfully things improved as computers evolved.
How are HOGs beneficial?
HOGs promote attention to detail. Children who play HOGs get better at focusing on details of other visual challenges
HOGs increase vocabulary. Most have a list for the player to find. If the player doesn’t know what an item is, they can use hints to learn where (and what) the item is. The only issue I have with this is the game developers often get musical instruments wrong. It’s a pet peeve of mine. This is also beneficial depending on where the game is developed as other countries may have other words for items.
Instills good work habits. Because most HOGs now come with a story line, many kids want to continue the game to see what happens next. This promotes longer attention spans and focusing on the end goal rather than getting quick and easy achievements.
Self confidence boosting! Having a child finish one on their own, even with hints, is a huge boost in their confidence.
Improved visual perception. Children will be better at recognizing shapes and objects when they aren’t in their “typical” environment.
Benefits of HOGs for special needs kids?
Including the list above…
Most HOGs you can’t die in or have minimal consequences for mistakes. This can help with anxiety or anger issues
Most newer HOG’s have a relaxed mode, meaning there is no timer.
HOGs are run with a mouse or your finger on a smart device
Story driven… most have closed captions or the option for captions and newer ones have voice overs for those struggling to read
Suggestions on games?
We have tons of HOGs. Many of them come in a series. It all depends on your fav genre. Please note, I have found the best place to get HOGs both on the computer and the smart devices is from Big Fish Games. You do purchase the game, but that means no adds, no energy, and you can install and reinstall as much as you want. They also give you the feature to try games before you buy. That feature has been a major game changer in this house. Here’s a list of our favorite series by genre (all photos provided by Big Fish Games). Note: if you see one that says “Collector’s Edition”, it includes DLC and the strategy guide. Usually the strategy guide is sold separately and the DLC is exclusive to the Collector’s Edition.
Super natural and horror
I’d seriously recommend an HOG for you to try. Figure out what genre works best for you. Try before you buy! Play the games with your child(ren) so they can learn how to do them. Pick series you may want to play as a family. Remember, the family that plays together stays together!
For decades, we’ve heard not to play video games because they will rot your brain, just like the “boob tube”. . Video games are harmful to a child’s development. Many of these people will sit in front of a tv show or a movie, but video games are “bad”.
What if I told you video games can encourage reading? Video games can assist with physical therapy. Video games can help develop critical thinking. Video games help to combat the effects of dementia and Alzheimer’s.
Gaming in Health Care:
Studies have shown that preschool children who have played with the physically interactive systems, like a Nintendo Wii, Playstation Move, or an X-Box Kinect have improved motor skills. They are often able to kick, throw, and catch balls better than their peers who have not been exposed to said gaming systems. Many hospitals, therapy centers, and some nursing homes are using the Wii, Move and Kinect as part of their physical therapy. In a study of 20 elderly Parkinson’s patients who played for three (3) months in physical therapy, they found an improvement of 55% in gait velocity, 65% in stride, and 55% in balance. ICU’s have reported due to the lower costs of the Wii, they are able to save patients money and they still see a significant improvement in the 33-64 age range. These systems are now older and thus cheaper so families can also have them at home to encourage their child to move. (You can check online or at your local gaming store that deals in older systems). This is also great for children who have to stay indoors during certain seasons due to a medical condition or severe allergies.
I do plan on doing an article on the differences between the Wii, Move, and Kinect in the future.
Boston did a study on surgeons who use microsurgery. The results showed doctors who play video games were 27% faster than those who don’t AND made 37% fewer mistakes. So now its a good thing to have a surgeon who plays video games. In another study, they found eyesight improves with video games. (They have no idea how). In children with amblyopia (crossed or lazy eye), when they play games for a year, there was 30% significant, 60% moderate improvement to the crossed eye. In addition to sight improvement, people develop the ability to differentiate between more shades of gray. (Not a book reference). People who drive at night or are pilots benefit the most from this… and the poor people asked by their partner to pick a shade of gray to paint with. The Leap Motion combined with a VR (virtual reality) headset is often used to help with Occupational Therapy and “hands on” educational and training programs. In a study using virtual table video games (like tablets) for occupational therapy over one (1) month for children ages 3-15 with motor disabilities, they found 3x improvement in fine motor skills and range of motion, especially with manipulations over door knobs, zippers, and buttons.
Gaming affects a variety of parts of the brain. Games can help people with decision making. RPGs (role playing games) are some of the best ones that encourage the player to make decisions, whether it’s based on strategy for gameplay or options that will change the story line. Studies show that people who play games make decisions 25% faster than those who don’t play, and they do not lose accuracy. They also found that gamers can often make 6 separate decisions and act on them within one (1) second, which is apparently four (4) times faster than the average person. (This means the non gamer makes 1.5 decisions and acts them out within a second.
The University of Rochester, New York, found that gamers are able to multitask more than six (6) separate tasks at the same time and not get confused; the average non-gamer can focus on up to four (4) tasks.
RPGs, text adventure games (old school) which are like a Choose Your Own Adventure Book, and reading game guides are excellent ways to boost reading skills. Commodore 64 had tons of the text games that are still popular to this day. Classic Reload has them available to play online.
Interesting fact, a popular text based game calledJewels of Darkness was involved in a lawsuit. The game is actually a series of three (3) games that were based on stories by Tolkien (Lord of the Rings, Hobbit, Simarillion, and Tales from Middle Earth). Because of this, the game was originally released as the Middle Earth Trilogy. Needless to say, they didn’t have rights to his estate and so they had to change the name.
The University in Auckland, New Zealand, had 94 young people play a computer/mobile RPG called SPARX, designed for ages 12-19 to teach skills that are often taught in CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy). In many cases, the game reduced symptoms of depression more than traditional treatments. There have been other studies with others young people and the total tested is 187 to date and they have found it also helps with anxiety and anger. 44% of players recovered completely from depression, compared to 26% who have standard treatments. 60% showed a reduction of symptoms by at least 30%. Unfortunately the game is currently only available in New Zealand. I hope it is more widely available in the future.
Oxford University found that people who play Tetris right after a traumatic experience can help reduce the chance of flash backs or PTSD.
The downside to this is individuals, especially males, who only play violent video games are foundto have a decreased activity in the prefrontal lobe, which can lead to altered mood states and aggression. It can also lower their empathetic response. It’s been found that those who only play excessively violent games have more anxiety than other gamers. Also, video game addiction can lead to decreased activity in the frontal lobe.
Gamification in Health care
These are games that encourage patients to make healthy choices. A very common version of this is apps that link to your fitness watch and such. Some are literal games that will let you trade in the steps you take for gear for your game, some are audio books that will read about an apocalypse or adventure. These often have “action scenes” that encourage you to run just like the characters in the stories do. Some are using games for behavior modification to combat childhood obesity. This has been particularly effective in the preteen range. They get more game time in trade for eating 2-3 more servings of fruits and veggies a day and less junk food. Results are typically seen within 2 months.
Zen games are becoming increasingly popular, these often have techniques that are taught in Bio Feedback Therapy. Some biofeedback centers use games to encourage children to relax. For example, we’ve seen some that are linked to the child’s heartrate and breathing that had a butterfly or a bunny come out and move when the child was relaxed.
There are some amazing innovations in electronics to help children, whether for education, calming, communication, or tracking.
In this day in age, many people have heard about educational games. Some commonly known ones are:
Tinybop offers a wide array of STEM games for mobile platforms. We have several of them. Thing 2’s favorite was the human body. The apps explore anatomy, physics, nature, space, and engineering.
Note: the human anatomy doesn’t show the urogenital system unless you purchase it.
Toca Boca apps… when my kids were younger, they had all of the older ones. Toca Boca designs apps for younger children, or those with special needs. Many of these apps encourage human interaction so children who have social issues can learn from it (examples include Toca Store, Toca Birthday Party, Toca Tea Party). They designed a whole Toca Hair Salon series (I think there’s 5 games total) that can help with children who experience anxiety from the hair dresser. Tons of imaginative games, and even science games like Toca Lab, which is based on the periodic table of elements, and Toca Lab 2: Plants, which explores cross germination. (Update: I just got word they have also started releasing a box like Sago Mini.)
Sago Mini was also a favorite in our house. They design apps for toddlers and preschoolers that help them explore their world and emotions. They also introduced the Sago Mini Box which include playsets and activities that relate to the Sago Mini world. Sago Mini is a subsidiary of Toca Boca, so you know the quality is there, and it’s easy to transition to the next stage of play with Toca Boca.
And the list keeps going. There are online games that mimic school curriculums, games for subjects, games for typing.
One of the ways we help with education on “non educational games” is to have the kids design their own cheat sheets for the game. This is something my parents started with me. So I have PRIMA guides (which encourages reading and following directions) and tons of guides and maps I made myself.
In not so short, video games can be beneficial when used in the right way. If you are looking for ways to download games to your computer, our favorites are GOG and Steam for more modern games and indie games. Our favorite for puzzle games, including match 3, hidden object games, literal puzzles, and word games is Big Fish Games.
Please don’t hesitate to ask questions or recommendations for types of games.
I’m now headed off to see if I die from dysentery again.
We are steadily approaching the end of school here. This means standardized testing for all the kids, sans one; meaning a change in schedules (which does not bode well for attitudes in the house). Half the kids are in person and the others are still virtual, meaning scheduling for the testing… and rearranging any medical appointments we already had scheduled months in advance. Not to mention finals.
Oh yeah, I forgot we had an EF-0 hit our neighborhood. That required some cleanup, some of it urgently. (Trees down, broke one of the fences so the dogs found a way out. Fun times.)
Genetic tests, month long cardiac monitors, MRIs, OH MY!
The joy of getting all the testing done so you can wait what seems like an eternity for the results to come in.
In the meantime:
I’ll write about some books that have saved my hide over the years, and might help you as well. I’m going to do 2 serious books and a fun one. So please keep reading.
Kids in the Syndrome Mix of ADHD, LD, Autism Spectrum, Tourette’s, Anxiety, and More!
Besides the fact the cover reminds me of a pop art Sea of Colors print of the Beatles, the book is very helpful. The book is written as if you were going to family counseling to seek help in how to interact appropriately with special needs kiddos. The first two chapters include check lists and very real scenarios relating to diagnosis and treatment of said child. (I keep saying child because the book says child. But if you have an adult with any of these syndromes, I’m sure it would help to address them as well.)
Each chapter relating to the disorders are broken down into:
○The definition: including symptoms, and breakdowns of the disorder.
○Real life symptoms – how it affects life so you can see issues they may be going through.
○Co-morbidities and family problems: other disorders linked and how this may affect your family.
○Treatments: not only including medications and therapies, but ideas for 504s and IEPs. OMG, a huge help when you are advocating for your own kid, or when they are old enough to advocate for themselves.
Some chapters may have additional fluff, but the main breakdown is as above.
Ideas for 504s and IEPs.
I cannot stress this enough.
The syndromes and disorders covered are:
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
Specific Learning Disorders
Autism Spectrum Disorder
ASD Level 1
Asperger’s Syndrome (This one is a nice throw in since the ASD is all thrown together and they consider Asperger’s obsolete.
Oppositional Defiant Disorder and Intermittent Explosive Disorder
Central Auditory Processing Disorders
There’s an additional chapter on medications, a behavioral checklist, a quiz on executive functions, and dealing with insomnia. I used sticky tabs to mark what the kids had so I could quick refer to it, color coded them as well per kid. Hubs and I laughed because we ended up marking almost the entire book. ~sigh~. Whether you are a parent or a professional, I would recommend this book.
I received this book from my MIL as a gift a few years back. It has tips for surviving modern kids, keeping them safe, and projects. If you or your kids are nerdy/geeky, this is an excellent book.
Chapter 1 Secret Identities: An Introduction to Imagination
This chapter further breaks down as it talks about superheroes, creating secret lairs, party ideas, cosplay, comic books, treasure hunts, steam punk, and conventions.
Chapter 2 Elementary, My dear watson: A child’s natural sense of curiosity will lead the way into learning
This chapter has surprisingly been a life saver during COVID. It talks about building a home learning center for homework or home schooling. It also talks about cartography (map making, our favorite is pirate maps), mazes, an intro to horror stories, time travel – family trees, role-playing, music lessons (like how there is a lot of classical influence in Rock and Roll. One of my favorites, not listed in the book, is Desire by Gary Hoey).
Chapter 3 resistance is futile: multitasking mothers are at the forefront of the digital revolution
This chapter is dedicated to video games. It discuses how they are beneficial to children (the right games, of course and in moderation). It talks about classic games vs new games, playing online and how to be safe online. TBH, I glanced over this chapter because it isn’t an issue for us. My hubs and I are both digitally savvy, but I see so many kids that are running free and getting into trouble on the net. I do recommend this.
In addition to board gaming, we also have a lot of video games. We use them in addition to therapy, as well. I have had some requests to cover them so I will be doing the digital library in addition to our board games. Please let me know if you have any requests or anything in particular you are looking for.
Chapter 4 inquiring minds want to know: bringing science home for our kids and ourselves
There are so many cool experiments in this chapter from sound wave experiments to lava lamps. Rocks, geodes, gardening, space! (I could use help with gardening…)
Chapter 5 food wizardry: the geeky family about the kitchen
This entire chapter is about food. If you have special diets, you can probably skip this chapter or try to modify the recipes. But if you are game, it includes a hobbit feast for one of their many meals. (If your kids are anything like half of mine, they eat like Hobbits).
Of course Hobbit food isn’t all there is, there’s fusion food like dessert pizza, sourdough bread (before it was cool), Tetris cake and Chess cupcakes, cephalopods… fudge Mt Olympus, essential seasoning, a spot on tea, and an ode to Julia Child and Alton Brown. Should your child like making chemistry in the kitchen, I can do another segment on cookbooks for kids if requested.
Chapter 6 Make it Sew! and other geek crafts: taking traditional crafts into new galaxies
This chapter gives a brief history lesson on handicrafts and then jumps right into the fun. It gives instructions on sewing a felt monster, crocheting an amigurumi… being, tie dye, DIY battery light up sculptures, painting with light, using electronic components into accessories and beading designs (I have some dangly earrings made out of resistors, they look so cool), and an mini abacus. It even tells you how to read an abacus. I wonder if you would have to remove it for all the standardized testing.
Two Picard jokes in the same section. I was set up.
All in all, the book offers some fun ideas to get kids (or parents) involved. It’s a fun read and it’s fun in practice as well.
Married with Special Needs Children
This is the last book I am reviewing in this post, and a very important one, even if it sounds like a spinoff of a 90’s sitcom. The data for divorce with special needs children is all over the map; unsurprisingly, it depends on the type of disability and the severity. There are rumors that the divorce rate is 80%, but this is false. The highest rate is among those families with severely disabled children, Down’s Syndrome, and Autism Spectrum Disorder, hovering at around 10% more than other families in their demographic. When I say this, this means the average rate of divorce in the US for civilians is around 2.9 (a major low), so a family with special needs kids of the above would have a 12.9 rate of divorce approx. Mind you, there are career choices that affect divorce rates. If you want to look at these, they are fascinating, but also disturbing.
There are suspicions that the higher the stress the job is, the higher the rate of divorce, and in some cases, add in the pay rate (or lack there of) and the rate goes up further. An excellent example of this is EMS: Firefighters make decent money and can have high stress during calls. They have a divorce rate of 30%. Where as Fire Inspectors (I’m assuming like Fire Marshals) have a rate at 39%, more money, but a lot more paperwork and government involvement. EMTs and Paramedics are at a rate of 41.6%. If they work for a private ambulance company, they spend their entire shift in their ambulance and wait for their next call. Some shifts they are so busy, they don’t have time to do their charting until the end of their shift. They often are on calls for backup with police (most police professions were surprisingly under 40%). Where as “Ambulance Drivers” that aren’t EMTs (other than MTP or Medical Transportation companies, I don’t think they exist anymore), their pay is barely above min wage, they are basically glorified taxis but with ill clients, and the divorce rate is 46.3%. 911 Dispatchers win with a divorce rate of 46.6%. Their pay is pretty good, but the constant phone calls and stress… Those who have jobs where an individual travels a lot has a high rate of divorce, likely due to a lack of connection or fears of infidelity (or flat out infidelity).
I digress… take the percentage of a career and add 10% for the special needs kiddo. Some of the rates can be alarming.
This book helps with co-parenting strategies. This is a common problem with parents and entire families with special needs kiddos. It helps find ways reigniting the romance you may have let fizzle while making your child your priority during the diagnosis phase. There is nothing wrong with this and it doesn’t make either of you a bad spouse, you were being an excellent parent, and now it is time to focus on you. Speaking of you, do you have healthy coping strategies? Are you taking care of yourself?
This book is also amazing in the fact that it is the first book I have read that talks about keeping your marriage together, but it also talks about second marriages and blended families. So many books I have read made me feel judged because it kept talking about the biological parent. This book is so inclusive, you can tell it is written by professionals that have experience handling special needs families of different types.
It’s not just about relationships, it does talk about having alone time, childcare issues, community resources and support outside of the family (because not everyone has familial support).
I wish I could say more or add quotes about this book. I read it years ago during a hospital stay with one of the kids. It’s been on my list of books to buy since then.
And thus ends probably my most boring post so far. I do apologize. I hope you find these books useful. You can always check them out at your local library (librarians have a really low rate of divorce, btw). School will be out in a couple of weeks, then we will hopefully have a schedule of entertaining games ahead of us. Until then, take care.