I have to say, this was a tough month to pick just one product for my Top Toy Pick for kids on the Autism Spectrum. Whether it was a bike or bubbles, it was a month of amazing toys and games. However, there was one that stood out, and that was the Dr. Seuss Whirly Fun! Game from Wonder Forge. I picked this product from all the others because of its focus on cooperation, which is part of many behavioral plans for children on the spectrum. It also has the benefit of teaching the skill to typically developing siblings.
The notable feature is that the game board is a pop-up house and, as a result, has a different aesthetic than a typical board game. This can throw a child off from typical thinking and can challenge a child to think of a game in a different way. It provides a subtle opportunity to focus on this play angle. To ease the transition and to minimize initial frustration, let a child spend a few sessions or play times just interacting with the house as a play object. Then slowly introduce the multi-dimentional concept of the game.
Color and Shape Reinforcement
The action cards in the game are designed to guide kids on what to do during their turns. After drawing a card from the pile, kids have to pick up the messy house either by color or shape during their turn. However, if you pick a Thing One or Two Card, players must spin a top (working on fine motor skills) and watch it fly through the house knocking things over. In addition to leading the game along, the cards also serve a second purpose of reinforcing colors and shapes. Therapists and parents can benefit from this hidden learning opportunity, too!
Pushing through Provocation
Whirly Fun has a level of unexpected chaos. This can challenge a child on the spectrum. The resulting dis-order may cause them to have an outburst as the game is out of their “control.” However, this is a good opportunity to introduce kids to that chaos and how to work through this provocation. If you need to go slow, skip the spinner and knock over just one or two objects at first, and then as the child builds tolerance, knock more over as you work your way up to the spin top part of the game.
Once the room is messy, players must work together to get the house cleaned up before Mom gets home. Thus, the game’s focus is on teamwork, supporting each other, and learning how to work as a group. This is a great game to have on hand during behavioral social groups, and even speech groups, as communication is important in achieving the objective.
All in all, the Dr. Seuss Whirly Fun! Game is also a must-have for discreet trial training, and traditional play experiences for the entire family!