Iowa's UCEDD Prescribes Fun and Games as Potential Best Practice

October 7, 2012

Website Link

Librarian Mary Hubbard with her student assistant in front of the toy lending collection
Librarian Mary Hubbard with her student assistant in front of the toy lending collection

Kids who receive clinical services from the Center for Disabilities and Development (CDD) at the University of Iowa are having an awful lot of fun these days. A new program, "Prescription to Play," can make a visit to CDD to receive therapy for a developmental need almost as much fun as going to the playground-really! This new program at CDD's Disability Resource Library (DRL), which focuses on children aged 3 to 12 years, lends therapeutic equipment to family members of children with developmental skill deficits.

In this program, however, therapeutic equipment means toys, including bean bag frogs and Gertie balls to work on gross motor skills, chunky puzzles and pattern blocks for autism and fine motor skills, "jigglers" for sensory adaption, and Toy Story Mr. Potato Head, and jumbo animal sets with lions and tigers and bears, for dramatic play and language skills. Other toys promote growth and development in communication and social skills as well.

Last winter, staff from CDD (Iowa's UCEDD) visited another member of the UCEDD network, the Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center Division of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics. CDD Administrator Elayne Sexsmith, Medical Director Royann Mraz and Nurse Manager Jane Davis were especially impressed by their toy lending program. As soon as they returned to Iowa, Dr. Mraz got to work on a similar project.

Now clinicians at CDD issue "prescriptions" to families to address their children's particular skill deficits. Next, they help them fill those prescriptions by locating appropriate toys in the DRL collection not only to use during therapy sessions, but also to bring home on loan to support the ongoing therapy process. Allowing families to take home toys in between visits to the clinic encourages observation and participation by parents in their children's developmental journeys.

DRL librarian Mary Hubbard continues to help build the collection and supervise the lending program. AUCD network members who would like to learn more about the Prescription to Play program at CDD may contact Mary Hubbard.

A list of library toys available through the program can be found on the Disability Resource Library website above.