Friday, September 3, 2010

Tools of the Trade

Hi, I’m Scott Russo. I work as an Occupational Therapist in the Pajaro Valley Unified School District in California. I also work as a professional consultant for Achievement Products. As an Occupational Therapist who has worked in the pediatric arena for 10 years, I have a love affair with toys. It is this love affair that led me to Achievement Products, the “one stop shop” for all of my personal and professional toy needs.

It is often said that the work of a child is play. Play is the medium through which children learn almost all of their developmental skills. Therefore, professionals who work in the field of pediatric development view toys as the most important “Tools of the Trade”. A pediatric specialist without a good stable of toys would be akin to a carpenter without a tool box.

Skill development at any age is reliant upon motivation. As adults, we are constantly developing new skills on a daily basis. Adult motivation comes from many sources, such as the need for income and the desire to care for family. For children, the primary motivational force is fun. Toys provide a medium for fun and creativity while also providing children with the necessary tools they need to develop skills that will be used later in life.

In a July 14 article in The Dallas Morning News , writer Sean Meehanin describes a program in Plano, Texas, where Legos ® are being used to develop social skills in children with autism. This is a perfect example of using a popular toy in therapeutic intervention. One of the primary challenges facing a child with autism is the development of appropriate social skills. At the same time, one of the particular strengths of children with autism is the ability to construct. Through the use of construction toys and group therapy, this program is using a motivational tool for an autistic child while assisting that child in the development of skills in a challenging area.

Construction toys available at Achievement such as Magic Magnetic Shapes, Gears, Gears, Gears, and Weighted Bumpity Blocks allow therapists and other professionals in the pediatric arena to work on skills in several areas, including, but not limited to, gross and fine motor skills, cognitive development, and social skills. With tools such as these that provide inherent motivation, pediatric professionals are afforded the opportunity to be highly creative in their teaching methods or therapeutic approaches. Are there toys in your “tool box” you won’t go to work without? Please write back and let us know what they are.