Madilyn never really cared for puzzles when she was younger. Being blind, if it didn’t make a sound, she took zero interest in it. And yes, some puzzles have audio, but they don’t usually have a decent speaker, which equals bad sound. And Madilyn has a discriminating ear for anything that isn’t good quality sound! (Hint: remember to test out sound toys in the store if you can to get an idea of how much your child will enjoy hearing it!)

Independence Skills Progress Can Be Inches Rather Than Miles

Now that she is ten years old and becoming more aware of what others are doing around her, she’s figuring out what she can do for herself. Ah, finally progress in independence! I don’t think I’m a hovering mom in a protective sense, but maybe in a “let me just do it because we’re in a hurry” kind of fashion. My husband has been great at pointing that out. So I’ve been consciously trying NOT to do things for Madilyn that she can learn to do herself.

For her to get herself completely ready in the mornings would be ideal for everyone! The past year with her favorite occupational therapist has been the most progress we’ve seen her make in a full stride. Manipulating objects with her fingers is tough as well as getting fingers on both hands to work together. She practiced for almost a full school year to learn to fasten a large button. We all tried different ways to teach her using little songs, breaking it down step by step, and reinforcing what she learns in school at home- and vice versa. We kept in contact with her OT at least once a month on this particular goal to discuss what was working and where she was getting stuck. I believe this conversation helped get Madilyn to where she is today, no doubt! Not to mention, her OT was outstanding!!

Melissa & Doug Basic Skills Board (affiliate link)

Use Toys & Puzzles To Make Practice More Fun

At home, I made a few different DIY activities I found on Pinterest, but the easiest and most entertaining way for Madilyn to practice these independence skills for self-dressing was using a fine motor skills puzzle board from Melissa & Doug. Having a set number of pieces ready for her to un-do and re-do took the guess work out of how long she was going to work on it. I described the bear picture on the board to her, and we explored the different pieces together, giving them each a descriptive name for the type of fastener. Taking the time to do this, in the beginning, grabbed her interest in the toy and she has been using it ever since. Once she just about perfected un-doing each piece, we made a game out of it by timing her to see how fast she could do it. I also found a little motivator of TV time helped get her out of a slump a few weeks ago, too.

Now, Madilyn can un-do all six pieces, as well as fasten back the snap, the button, and is so close with the plastic buckle! Starting the zipper is a challenge for her to put the two pieces together and a belt buckle is way too many steps to complete. But she’s not giving up!


  • Get out the puzzle during TV time for more self-practice without any stress.
  • Only work on a piece or two at a time until those are mastered, then add others to work on more advanced skills.
  • Keep track (PDF) of your child’s progress! Sometimes it can seem like forever and be discouraging, but if you highlight the great days to look back on, then it can be a motivator for you and the teacher and even the child!
  • Talk to your child’s occupational therapist about tips and ideas for the home. He/she should be able to give you information on what is working and not working for your child during the OT therapy session.
  • Take time on the weekends or in the evenings when you aren’t in a rush to give your child all the time in the world he/she needs to get dressed or undressed, only helping if you are asked!
  • Find the Basic Skills Board from Melissa & Doug on the Sensory Sun Amazon Store!