I borrowed "The New Language of Toys: Teaching Communication Skills to Children with Special Needs (2nd ed, 1996)" by Sue Schwartz, PhD and Joan E. Heller Miller, Ed.M from the Down Syndrome Association of Greater St. Louis (DSAGSL). A couple of Matthew's therapists use this book as a reference. That's a good enough clue for me to know this is a good book. I liked this book so much that I ordered my own copy - the 3rd edition.
The concept of the book revolves around encouraging and enhancing communication development through playing with toys. The authors write that the book is designed "to be used with any child who has a language delay, whatever the cause may be." I like that the book is arranged by language developmental ages from birth to 6 years, with a section that helps me gauge what developmental age (as opposed to chronological age) best fits Matthew.
A list of suggested toys (store-bought and homemade) and exercises with helpful toy dialogues, a list of suggested vocabulary and communication concepts, and a list of children's books are included in each section, all of which are appropriate for the level of language development. A checklist of developmental milestones to track progress is also available at the end of each section. The developmental milestone checklist is similar in format to the Developmental Journal for Babies and Children with Down Syndrome but far less comprehensive. In any case, it is sufficient for the purpose of determining developmental age.
Matthew is 20 months old (chronological age). According to the language, cognitive, and physical development levels described in the book, Matthew fits into the 12-15 month developmental age range. This is in line with his therapists' evaluation of his language and physical skills. Although I mainly refer to the suggested activities in this age range, there are some activities and toys in the 15-24 month range that I am able to adapt to Matthew's level of language development.
Since I stay home and do not have other kids yet, I spend my free time educating myself (and blogging) so I can follow through with the various therapies more efficiently in between visits. Matthew currently sees a Physical Therapist (PT) every two weeks, a Developmental Therapist (DT), also known as a Special Instructor, every two weeks, an Occupational Therapist (OT) twice a month, and a Speech Therapist (ST) twice a month. All the activities they do with him are specifically designed to achieve the goals we set in our Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP).
In addition to the therapists' suggestions, I can look through this book for more developmental age-appropriate ideas for activities instead of trying to pull something out of thin air. I especially like the list of books since it makes it easier for me to know what to look for at our local library.