by Larry Mestyanek, Ph.D. – President, TAG Toys, Inc.
Early intervention with an autistic child has proven to be the most promising approach for stimulating normal development. Like all infants and toddlers the primary source for stimulating physical and mental development for an autistic child is through the basic senses of seeing, hearing, touching and movement. The stimulation of these senses is the basis for more advanced learning.
The human brain is the only organ not fully developed at birth. The human brain actually grows as a result of stimulation from the environment. The growth is not an increase in the number of brain cells or the size of the brain but in the formation of dendrites which are extensions from a brain cell that create connections between and among other brain cells. These connections are pathways whereby information is learned and stored in memory. With repeated stimulation these pathways solidify and strengthen. This is the basis of intelligence.
Every infant and in particular the autistic child who cannot yet speak, read or write depends on building sensory sub skills to allow for more complex learning. Developing these sub skills is accomplished first by sensory input from the environment followed by sensory output from the child. The next step is the manipulation of the environment through movement. There is no greater reward (positive reinforcement) for a child than to cause an effect in his or her world. This is why children grasp, push and pull, twist and turn, and mimic observed behavior.
We all have heard the real estate maxim – location, location, location. With learning the maxim is sub skills, sub skills, sub skills.
TAG Toys are specifically designed to target the development of sub skills basic for more advanced leaning. A child is born into a 3 dimensional world and must begin learning in the third dimension. This is why all of the TAG Toys are what we call “manipulatives”. Toys that are played with, handled, touched, moved, “manipulated” and in the process providing the stimulation that causes the brain cell extensions (dendrites) to grow and strengthen.
The products most successful with the autistic child in developmental order are:
- Spin-Around Glitter Drum
- Geo Form Boards
- First Blocks
- Giant Knob Shape Puzzle
- Amazing Tracker
- Maple Shape Sorter
- Shape Sorter with Mirror
- Hide and Seek Teddy Bear Puzzle
- Memory Circles
- Tumble Down Counting Pegs
- Motor Shapes Sequence Board
- Size and Shape Comparison Puzzle
- Watch Me Count! Number Puzzle
- I Can Spell! Alphabet Puzzle
- Lock Box Memory Game
- Locks and Latches Activity Board
- Hobby and Art Table
TAG Toys is an environmentally friendly, family company that proudly hand crafts hundreds of educational toys in the USA, including toys that help children learn to spell and count. Please visit www.TAGToys.com
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