If you have a B/VI child and haven’t discovered the wide, wonderful world of water, now is the time to start and explore!
Peanut didn’t start walking until he was almost 20 months old. He’d pulled up and cruised a bit in the house, but he wasn’t willing to take those first brave steps out into the world. Our TVI, Kathy, suggested taking him to the pool and helping him to walk there. Evidently, walking through water gives more feedback than walking through the air. We went to our local YMCA, which has a zero-entry pool, with Peanut and our friend Dr. V and got him to walk between me, Dr. V and Efrit. Peanut was willing to take steps through the water that he wouldn’t do on dry land! Shortly after that, he started walking in earnest, and he hasn’t slowed down since.
One of Peanut’s favorite early toys was his water table. Even before he was willing to get in the water, he loved standing and playing at the table. It’s a very tactile toy–you can feel the water as you run your fingers through it–and it provides audio stimulation in the sounds of the water splashing, pouring from container to container, or dripping Peanut’s favorite toys with the water table were a set of measuring cups I picked up for about $1 at Big Lots and used shampoo/soap bottles (the brown ones from Bath and Body Works were a favorite–they make great squirt bottles when the lids are left on, and, since they’re dark, algae doesn’t grow in them as easily).
Together with the water table, you can use all sorts of containers to make a water wonderland in your back yard; this was a life-saver last year when I was hugely pregnant and the heat indices were 125-degrees+. I blew up his little swimming pool and filled a plastic beverage tub (about $5 at Big Lots) with cold water that I then soaked my feet in. I hauled his Elmo sprayer (it’s a three-way spray toy that Peanut’s not terribly fond of, seeing as how he hates getting water in his eyes; its lowest level is a fine mist that was absolutely essential for surviving last summer’s outrageous temperatures) up on the deck near the other toys and used the mist for keeping us both at a reasonable temperature—I swear, the mist felt like air conditioning.
The tub’s great as a pool of water at a different height–Peanut’s fond of transferring water between containers, and it’s at just the right height for Sprout to reach over and dangle her fingers in. Peanut will wander between the different water containers, even stooping to get water out of the dogs’ bowl, and he likes hearing the sounds the water makes when splashed from different containers at different heights. He’s also quite fond of helping water the plants (even when, like now, there aren’t actually any plants in the pots) with the hose—I think he likes feeling helpful, and he gets exercise from pulling the hose around the deck. There’s also audio stimulation from the sound of my screeches when he sprays me with the hose—he was pretty delighted when he figured that one out!
Water tables are fairly inexpensive–I think we picked ours up for about $30 at Target. We’re on our third summer with the water table, and it has been totally, completely and utterly worth it. I do recommend putting a bit of dish soap in the water (a squirt or so will do it) because this keeps mosquito larvae from developing in the H2O; even so, you’ll need to clean it once a week or so and replace the water. Peanut’s pretty good at helping with the cleaning, so I anticipate this isn’t a job you’ll have to do all by yourself: your little guy or gal will be happy to help you as a different way of “playing” with the equipment. Dog 1 is still fond of drinking from the water table rather than the water bowl on the deck, and the small amount of soap in the water seems to have produced no ill effects.