Five Ways to Bring Water Play Home

Water Play Home

Though restaurants, parks, beaches and retail establishments across the nation are slowly re-opening, the threat of COVID-19 remains very real. Due to the virus, most summer camps will be closed and many families have postponed long-awaited trips. This summer, it just seems safer to stay close to home.

If you’re feeling disappointed and tearing your hair out wondering how on earth you’re going to keep the kids occupied, you’re not alone.

To make the best of a bad situation, over the next few weeks, Enabling Devices will be sharing ideas on how to keep the young ones entertained and the grown-ups from losing their cools!

In this week’s post, we’ll explore ways to enjoy water play without exposing your family to large groups of people.

Water play is therapeutic for all people and especially for those with disabilities. According to, water play — even in a small kiddy pool or bathtub — offers helps with developing balance, strength, coordination, communication and social skills. Fortunately, you can reap all these benefits even without a beach or large swimming pool at your disposal. Here are some suggestions:

Inflatable pools

If outdoor space is available, consider purchasing an inflatable above ground swimming pool. There are many options ranging from small kiddy pools that can accommodate one or two toddlers to large above ground pools that can accommodate a whole family. Depending upon the size and type of pool you purchase, prices range from $6 – $150. As with all water activities, never leave children unsupervised — even for a second.

Backyard splash pads

Great fun for everyone, splash pads or splash mats make water play more accessible for young wheelchair users. Typically, these products spray water from hoses at their bases. Since they generally have nonslip bottoms that don’t hold standing water, they tend to be safer than traditional swimming pools. You’ll still need to watch your kids while they splash though.

According to educator, inclusion advocate and special needs parent Mara Kaplan, splash pads “are inherently inclusive. There are no access issues for people who use mobility devices. They are basically flat and they offer brushed concrete, non-skid surfaces, which ensure steady footing. I have seen parents cover their child’s wheelchairs with plastic bags and then they are ready to go.”

Backyard splash pads range in price from about $25 – $150. There are also professionally designed, permanent splash pads that cost a great deal more.

Water toys

Water play toys aren’t exclusively for outdoor use, but if the weather’s good, you can save some cleanup time by taking them outside. Enabling Devices makes lots of toys that introduce children to the joys of water play. Here are just some of these:

Big Water Toy (#9000) This versatile toy creates a wonderful tactile experience. Just fill its tray, hit your switch and watch as water squirts out of the toy’s removable hose. Attach the hose to a pail or sand toy, water the plants, sail toy boats, or have a toy car wash!

Harbor Breeze #3288 Like a day at the beach, our therapeutic fan sends cool breezes as it plays lively music and produces soothing sounds like crashing waves, buoy bells and seagulls

Under the Sea #9013 This water toy is bound to be a hit. Use two of your switches for two different activations: one that makes the water swirl around the colorful pond; the other that turns on lights and music

Adapted Garden Spray #9083 Introduce your child to horticulture by letting her water the garden with this adaptable hose that attaches to her wheelchair.

 Good old-fashioned water fun

Waiting for your new water toys to arrive? Meanwhile, kids can still have a great time playing with water balloons, blowing bubbles and getting sprayed with the garden hose. Or try these easy, fun and educational activities from Unlimited Play:

      • Fill one container with mud and water, and another with soap and water. Let your kids get their favorite toy figurines dirty in one bin, and then scrubbed clean with a sponge or brush in the other.
      • Freeze pool or bath toys in a bowl of water. Then, have your child pour warm water over the ice block until it melts and the toy is free.

Rainy-day water play

When the weather is frightful, your children can still enjoy water play indoors. Says Ilana Danneman of Friendship Circle: “Have your child help wash dishes and get the benefit of not only water contact but also new skills and pride in helping out (even if you do have to wash them again). You can also get a sand or water table and some space sand to use for a great hands-on sensory experience. And don’t forget to maximize your bathtub or shower as a place for a great sensory workout.”

A Time for Giving

Speech Therapist working with a student with special needs

On #GivingTuesday we can’t think of a better time to pay tribute to some of the most generous people we know — the therapists, teachers, medical providers and caregivers — who use our products and provide us with the feedback we need to make them better. These exceptional individuals give of themselves — not just on Giving Tuesday — but on every day to help the children and adults who need them.

It should go without saying that working in what’s sometimes called “the helping professions” is not appropriate for all of us. These professions require very particular skill sets and specialized training. Depending upon their roles, many helping professionals have studied for years to obtain the level of expertise they require to teach, treat and assist their students, clients and patients. Some have master’s degrees, doctorates and other postgraduate certifications. Yet, many of the traits that make these professionals successful cannot be taught. Rather they are innate.

For example, according to Special Education, special education teachers need qualities such as “organizational skills; creativity and enthusiasm; confidence and calm; a good sense of humor and easygoing personality; dedication and optimism.”

Chron. com says occupational therapists need “good communication and listening skills; organizational and problem-solving skills.” And physical therapists must have “science skills; interpersonal skills; motor skills; and organizational skills.”

Besides the qualities referenced above, effective helping professionals require loads of patience and tons of compassion. Those who choose to put their skills and talents to work with clients who are severely impaired may require even greater amounts of patience and compassion.

The vast majority of professionals who work with people with disabilities are employed at settings such as schools, hospitals, rehabilitation centers and other nonprofit organizations. Many of these rely, at least in part, on donations from private individuals. This Giving Tuesday, why not consider making a contribution to a nonprofit institution that provides essential services for people with disabilities?  After all, ’tis the season of giving!


How Horses Heal


With only a couple of weeks until the official beginning of spring, many of us are raring to get outside. And when the weather’s fine, indoor therapy sessions may be the last thing you, your child or your clients want to do. Fortunately, some types of therapy are meant to take place out of doors. In fact, early spring is a great time to saddle up. For children and adults with special needs, spending time on and around horses can be great fun, as well as therapeutic.

There are two types of horseback riding especially for people with disabilities—hippotherapy and therapeutic or adaptive horseback riding. One of these therapeutic activities may be right for you, your child or a client.


Derived from the Greek word for horse “hippo,” hippotherapy is a medical treatment modality that utilizes the natural movements and unique qualities of horses to produce neurological changes that may result in improved posture, increased strength and coordination and sensory integration. Hippotherapy can be beneficial to individuals with neuro-musculoskeletal disabilities such as cerebral palsy, spina bifida, neuromuscular disorders, post-traumatic brain injury, autism, ADHD and cognitive disorders. The therapy is prescribed by a physician and conducted by an occupational, physical or speech and language therapist who has received training and is certified in hippotherapy.

According to Barbara Smith, writing for Parents, “Hippotherapy provides different types of sensory stimulation — muscles and joints receive deep pressure stimulation from bouncing and holding positions (like kneeling or standing on the horse), and the brain receives vestibular stimulation (to sense movement and balance) as the horse moves (in circles, up and down hills) and changes speeds.”

A 2016 study in the Physical & Occupational Therapy in Pediatrics journal found that “Hippotherapy provided by a trained therapist who applies an intense and graded session for 10 weeks can improve body functions and performance of gross motor and fine motor activities in children with cerebral palsy.”

Therapeutic Riding (also known as Adapted Riding)

According to PATH International (The Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International) “therapeutic riding is an equine-assisted activity for the purpose of contributing positively to the cognitive, physical, emotional and social well-being of individuals with special needs.”

Therapeutic riding is similar to recreational horseback riding lessons but it’s adapted for people with disabilities and taught by an instructor who is either certified as a therapeutic riding instructor or has experience working with people with disabilities. Horses used in therapeutic riding programs are screened to ensure that they are calm, gentle and predictable enough to keep riders with special needs safe.

A recent study on the effects of therapeutic horseback riding on children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorders published in the journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry found that therapeutic riding decreased irritability and hyperactivity and improved social cognition and language skills beginning in week five of the lessons.

Interested in learning more?

Check out the American Hippotherapy Association, Inc. and Path International.