Talking Larry Saves the Day

This time of year seems to drag on. I know, it’s only been a couple weeks since the holidays, when we all complained about being TOO busy…and now I’m complaining about having nothing to do. I just see a few months looming ahead with cold weather, lots of inside time, and hours when my kids will need to be kept busy. My daughters entertain themselves very well, but Eddie is another story.

I think that finding hobbies and activities for kids with visual impairments can be kind of tricky. Many of our kids’ peers enjoy TV, video games, board games, etc., and some of our kids who are blind may enjoy the same things. All they might need is a little bit of adaptation or instruction so they can enjoy that stuff at the same level.

However, my son Eddie, who is eight but developmentally much younger, seems to have a harder time finding appropriate free-time activities. He may listen briefly to his sisters playing a video game, but moves on quickly out of boredom. Who could blame him? He can’t see the TV and the same music plays over…and over…and over again. Frankly, I always want to leave the room, too.

Eddie’s favorite thing to do is listen to music, in his favorite “spinny” chair, while chewing gum, and happily banging his favorite percussion instrument. These things taken one at a time are definitely suited to most of his peers, but in combination are a bit much. His sisters and their friends peer at Eddie like a circus act, not quite sure how to join in, and pretty sure they don’t want to even try.

Like many parents that have kids with special needs, we have turned to the iPad for help. It is a device that most kids want, or want to play with, or simply want to be around. At first, Eddie saw nothing exciting about it. Some of the first apps I downloaded peeked his curiosity for about two minutes…then, he’d be back to his multi-tasking sensory smorgasbord in his room.

Since then, he has found interest in some of the apps like, “I Hear Ewe” and “Sound Touch,” which I think are pretty great myself, but they don’t keep other kids’ attention as long as they keep his. Last week, I joined him at a speech therapy appointment, which I rarely do because his Dad often takes him. While there, I was introduced to “Talking Larry,” Eddie’s new little iPad buddy.


The other night, he sat at the table for an hour talking to this bird that repeats everything he says. He sang him songs…cheered himself on…and laughed hysterically. While he and Larry carried on, his sisters sat down right next to him and begged to play, too. As a mom, I was happy to see him practicing his speech…but even happier to see him playing with his sisters, and not sneaking off into seclusion.

Every day I struggle to keep Eddie entertained, so help me out. What do your kids like to do? What are their favorite games? Do they use an iPad, or have any favorite apps? I’d love some new ideas…so please share with me, so I can share with Eddie.