Buying Toys

March 2018

There are worse things in the world than getting up in the morning and remembering you have to
buy toys. Buying toys is part of my job. How cool is that? Once every month or two, I make a
trip to my favorite toy store to buy toys.

I am a speech language pathologist, a speech therapist. I work with preschool and school age
children. In our thirty minute sessions, we work hard on the task at hand. We practice new
sounds, we learn to make our words easier to understand, we use longer sentences, and we learn
new vocabulary words. Often it looks like old fashioned drills. It can be repetitive and
monotonous. In my field, young therapists are often taught a more naturalistic, play-based
therapy style with seemingly less emphasis on repetitive practice. But many of my clients need
ongoing focused practice so that their speech can be more understandable. In my experience,
working often and directly on sounds and words creates improvement. My therapy style is quite
structured and I need many trials at each step with a high degree of accuracy. This is HARD

So, every five to ten minutes we stop and play. Not in the usual sense of playing, exploring,
using one’s imagination, creating, constructing (there is a place OF COURSE for that) but
typically as an immediate reward for having worked hard. For example, after a five minute work
period, we will wind up a toy and make it go. Or we will blow bubbles, or operate a cause and
effect toy or make something “disappear,” then, back to work. Of course, when we “tell” the toy
to move or the bubble to go, we can also be practicing our speech. 🙂

So repeated trips to the toy store are needed, because newness of toys helps keep attention and
focus, and attention and focus are prized essentials in what I do. Repeated trips and new toys
also help ME keep interested!

There is another way I use toys. When we work with children who are a bit slower in developing
communication, we can let the kids play and as they play, we use language to describe what they
are doing. They hear statements like “That’s the red ball,” or “You made it jump.” It’s called
indirect language stimulation and it has its place in encouraging speech and language growth.
I frequent small, independently-owned toy stores. They are often staffed by young seemingly
uninhibited workers who like to sing to the store’s playlist. When I buy toys, I get to think about
particular children and how they would respond to such a toy. I get to try out noisemaker toys
and not be shushed or shamed. Once purchased, I take the toys home and let my youngest
grandchild put them on trial. When I started my speech therapy practice our first large purchase
was $150 for toys, and my kids, especially my five year old boy became the designated toy
testers. Now my sixth grandchild Sidney has taken on that role.

I get to buy toys. Toys for motivation, toys for language encouragement, toys for fun, toys for
laughing. Laughing is good. Better than crying. What a great job.

Glenn Weybright

© 2018 Glenn Weybright. All rights reserved.

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