Note: This poem features detailed description of beginning sensory therapy for a toddler. It's almost entirely a positive experience for Nathaniel, but readers with sensory issues and/or crappy experiences of therapy may wish to consider their tastes and headspace before reading onward.
"A Realm of One's Being"
When Nathaniel turned three, Hannah called
the Diversitree Center for sensory issues.
She checked to make sure that they were
comfortable working with superkids, and
was pleasantly surprised to be offered
a therapist with superpowers of her own.
The next week, Hannah got Amada
to babysit the other kids, and took
Nathaniel to the Diversitree Center.
As advised Hannah let Nathaniel
romp around the inclusive playground
for the ten minutes it took to burn off
his excess energy. Then they went in.
They had arrived half an hour early,
because Hannah hadn't known how long
it would take for Nathaniel to wind down
enough to talk with a therapist.
The lady at the reception desk explained
that they could wait either in the waiting room
or in the cafe, so Hannah bought Nathaniel
a plate of apple-peanut butter smileys.
After he finished that, they moved over to
the waiting room, which had a child-sized table
and stools in addition to couches and chairs
for the big people. It also had plenty of books
and coloring pages to keep everyone entertained.
Before long, a volunteer came to lead them
down to the therapy office in the basement.
The cheerful room had pale yellow walls
and a wooden floor, with a desk and chairs at
one end and a play area at the other end.
Another kiddie table and stool nestled
between the couch and adult chairs.
Nathaniel sat on Hannah's lap anyway.
The therapist came out from behind
her desk to greet them. "Hi, I'm Lightwall,"
she said. Hair in shades of neon pink,
yellow, and green marked her as a soup.
"I'm Hannah, and this is Nathaniel.
We're here to talk about allergies
and sensory issues," Hannah said.
Nathaniel, who had been clinging
to Hannah like a burr since they arrived,
suddenly toddled over to Lightwall
and reached for her hair.
"It's not nice to grab at people
like that," Hannah reminded him
as she scooped him back onto her lap.
"That's a good rule most of the time,"
Lightwall said. "However, I took this job
because kids love my hair. I can even
make it glow! Would you like to see?"
"Uh huh," Nathaniel said with a nod.
Lightwall turned her hair on, and
it shone brightly even in the well-lit room.
"Pretty!" Nathaniel said, clapping his hands.
He bounced on Hannah's lap, clearly
wanting to touch Lightwall's hair.
"Would you like to touch my hair?"
the therapist invited. "You can
pet it as long as you're gentle."
Nathaniel looked up at Hannah.
"Can I really?" he asked.
She set him on the floor. "Yes,
it's okay to touch people if they
invite you, or if you ask first and
they say yes," Hannah explained.
Nathaniel scampered over to Lightwall
and very carefully smoothed a hand
down her long, straight hair. "It's
soooo soft!" he exclaimed.
"Thank you," Lightwall replied.
"Did your mommy explain why
you're visiting me today?"
He shrugged. "She said you
want to talk about my body."
"That's my job," Lightwall said.
"She told me that you're having
some problems. I can help you
figure out how to work around those
so your body doesn't bother you as much."
"I guess," Nathaniel said. He was
curling into himself again.
"I bet you're feeling scared because
this place is unfamiliar and you don't know
what's going to happen," Lightwall said.
"Think of me as a special friend who knows
some things you don't know yet. I'll show you
around here so it's not as scary. We can
play together and have lots of fun."
"My sister says therapy isn't fun,"
Nathaniel said, sticking his lip out.
"Hadyn has different therapy than
you will, because her challenges are
different than yours," Hannah said.
"Well, some therapy is more fun than
others," Lightwall said. "For little kids,
therapy should as playful as possible.
Sometimes I might ask you to do things
that aren't much fun, but after that, we'll
go back to doing things we enjoy."
"Like what?" Nathaniel said.
He looked around at the toys
in the far end of the office.
"Go find out," Hannah said.
"I bet Lightwall will show you
the toys if you ask nicely."
"Can we play?" Nathaniel said.
"Sure," Lightwall said, and
led him to the play area. "We have
all kinds of things to play with here.
What types of toys do you like?"
"Blocks. Books. Cars. Trucks ..."
Nathaniel said, rattling off his favorites.
"Ooo, I like cars too!" said Lightwall.
"Would you like to see my garage?
We can play a lot of games with it."
She brought out a beautiful wooden rack
that said Parking down one side and had
colorful numbered dots down the other.
Inside it, a stack of toy cars matched
the colors of the numbered dots.
"Cars!" Nathaniel crowed, and
dumped them all on the floor.
Lightwall let him play with them for
a while, zooming them across the play rug
and making loud vroom-vroom noises.
Then she said, "The cars go into
the garage from the top, like this."
She dropped in several. "Then you
can slide them out of the bottom."
When she took a car out, the ones
above it fell down the central chute.
It was a tricky puzzle for toddlers,
because getting the cars in and out
required careful hand-eye coordination
and a pincer grip, which made it useful
for gauging their physical skills.
After a couple of false starts,
Nathaniel figured out how to get
the cars to slide down the chute,
although getting them back out again
proved somewhat more challenging.
"Do you know your colors?"
Lightwall asked, pointing to
the rainbow array of cars.
"Red. Orange. Yellow. Green.
Blue. Purple." He hesitated. "Brown?"
"That's a dark, brownish red called
maroon," said Lightwall. "Look at
how many cars there are. The painters
had to stretch the rainbow a bit in order
to color all of them. See, there is
a light blue and a dark blue."
"Pink!" Nathaniel said, putting it
next to the fire-engine red car.
"Pink, red ... moon."
Lightwall laughed and clapped.
"That's very observant of you,"
she said. "Pink is a light red, you
put the regular red in the middle,
and maroon is a dark red. You
have a good eye for color."
That inspired Nathaniel to
sort out the cars into different sets.
"I think Nathaniel is showing us
some of the things that he has seen in
his siblings' art exercises," Hannah said.
"That makes sense," Lightwall said.
"Look, he's clustering the primary colors,
then the secondary colors. He made
a rainbow. He even put together
bunches of warm or cool colors."
"He does seem to be good with
colors and objects," Hannah said.
"What about abstracts? Nathaniel,
can you count to ten?" asked Lightwall.
"Park the cars in their garage. If you match
the color of the car to the dot on the side of
the chute, then it's easier to count them."
"One, two, three," Nathaniel said
as he put the cars into the slot.
When he finished, Lightwall
clapped again and said, "Very good!
Now, can you count backwards?"
"Ten ... nine ..." This time the count
went slower, and he made some mistakes.
"Let me show you a trick," Lightwall said.
"See this thing?" She picked up a block that
said Level. "If you put this on top of the cars,
it goes down along with them when you remove
one, so it always points to the right number."
"Neat," said Nathaniel. With some help
from the pointer, he made it all the way
down to the bottom of the garage.
"Now you can watch for things like this
when you go places with your mommy,"
said Lightwall. "Parking garages often
mark their floors with a color and a number
to make it easier for people to find their cars."
"Red floor, playground," said Nathaniel.
"Orange floor, restaurant. Yellow floor, mall!"
Lightwall looked at Hannah. "Does that
sound familiar to you?" the therapist said.
"Yes," said Hanna. "Those are the floors
of the Jim-Jam Building that we visit. Indoors,
the colors match the ones of the parking garage.
Like you said, it makes navigation easier."
"I'm impressed by your memory," Lightwall said
to Nathaniel. "You must pay close attention!"
"Uh huh," he said. Chubby hands stacked
the cars on the floor. He got five of them
piled up before they toppled over.
"Let's talk about hard things for
a little while," Lightwall said. "I bet
your body makes you mad or scared
sometimes. Can you show me with
the cars how many things bother you?"
Nathaniel dropped a car into the garage,
then looked at Lightwall. "How?"
"Start by naming that car for
something your body does that
makes you feel bad," Lightwall said.
"Throwing up," said Nathaniel.
"That's a yucky one, all right,"
said Lightwall. "Now pick a new car
and name another thing you don't like."
"Itchy," said Nathanial. He took
the next car and dropped it in the slot.
Lightwall encouraged him to keep going
until he ran out of ideas. Then he sat
on the floor banging a spare car on
the boards and scowling.
At least he wasn't living up to
his nickname and shrieking
his head off this time.
"You named a lot of the same things
your mommy did," said Lightwall.
"That means we agree on what
needs work. Look at that stack!
Five cars is a lot for such a little guy.
No wonder you feel mad sometimes."
"We're working on his coping skills,"
Hannah said. "I really want to identify
more triggers and solutions, though."
"We'll get to that," Lightwall said.
She took the cars out of the garage
and made a note on her tablet.
"Can I play?" Nathaniel asked,
as he pulled at the computer.
"I'm not playing a game right now,"
Lightwall explained. "I'm keeping track
of what you tell me so that I'll know
what we want to work on later."
"Oh," said Nathaniel, losing interest.
"Here's another way to use this toy."
Lightwall pointed to the red car that was
designated for throwing up. "Can you
show me how much this bothers you?
Put one car for a little, and more cars
if it makes you really unhappy."
Nathaniel stacked up eight cars.
"I hate getting sick," he said. "I hate it
lots and lots. I like food. It just doesn't
like me. That makes me so mad!"
"It would make me mad too,"
said Lightwall. "Nobody likes
getting sick. We can figure out
which foods are safe for you. Did
you know that smelling or tasting
food before you eat it can help you
guess whether it's okay or not?"
"Maybe?" Nathaniel said,
looking over at Hannah. He
tapped a car against the floor.
"We've started exploring that
a little bit," she said. "We've gone
to Donnie's Diner a few times, and
Nathaniel is becoming quite
the culinary adventurer."
"That's good to know," said Lightwall.
"Nathaniel, let's do itchy next." She
took the cars out of the slot and
laid the garage down. "Take a car
and drive it along here as far as
the itchiness bothers you."
That was a six, not quite as
bad as the digestive issues.
They went back and forth
between the two methods of
measuring, and Lightwall even
showed Nathaniel how they
meant the same thing despite
going in different directions.
He complained about loud noises --
Hannah related the story of the dust mites,
which made Lightwall raise her eyebrows --
and stinky smells in the house and
all kinds of other things too.
"What does your body do that bothers
you the most?" Lightwall asked finally.
"What things would you like for us
to concentrate on fixing first?"
"I don't like getting sick. I want to eat
and not throw up," Nathaniel said. "I
hate when it itches. I wish I could wear
normal clothes. Everyone else does."
"Hannah? How do you feel about
making those two of our goals?"
Lightwall asked, turning to her.
"I'm smooth with those," Hannah said.
"We agreed that three goals would be
a good starting point for someone of
Nathaniel's age," said Lightwall. "Do
you want to pick the third one, since
he's already set up the first two?"
"I'd really like to work on handholding,"
Hannah said. "Right now, sometimes
he lets me and other times he yanks
loose. That can be dangerous."
"She squeezes too hard!"
Nathaniel protested. "It hurts."
Hannah sighed. "Sweetie, I'm trying
to be gentle with you, but I really
can't let you run out into traffic."
"May I make a suggestion?" Lightwall said.
"That's what you get paid for," Hannah said.
"If you have a better idea, I'm all ears."
"Let's broaden the goal a little bit,"
the therapist said. "You want for
Nathaniel to be safe. Holding hands
is one way to do that, but there are
other ways too. Some people like to use
a safety line. Others are good at following
without touching. We could try different ones
and see which works best for you two."
Hannah thought about that for a moment,
then nodded. "All right," she said. "I'm
fine with any method that keeps him safe."
Lightwall added that to her notes.
"Okay, we have our three goals," she said.
"Nathaniel and I have made a start on
getting to know each other. I think that's
enough work for today! Let's go play."
"Playground?" Nathaniel asked,
bouncing to his feet. "That was fun!"
"I'm glad you liked our playground outside,"
Lightwall said. "Remember how I promised
to show you around here, though? I want
to introduce you our sensory play room.
It's like an indoor playground."
"Like Jim-Jam?" Nathaniel said.
"I like going there. It has fun rides.
I like the big foam blocks!"
"Our play room has swings and
foam blocks," Lightwall said. "Do you
want to come explore it with me?" She
held out a hand to him. "If you hold onto
me, then I won't squish your fingers."
Nathaniel dutifully wrapped his hand
around one of her fingers, then reached
for Hannah with his free hand.
"Let's go see this play room,"
Hannah said as she let him
take hold of her too.
It turned out to be wonderful.
Murals covered the walls with
cartoon characters. Foam mats
lined the floor. There were tunnels
and barrels to crawl through, things
to jump on or balance on, and swings.
Shelves and bins held smaller toys.
Tired of sitting still, Nathaniel
ran around the room climbing
all over everything in sight.
Lightwall just sat and watched.
"I can learn some of what he likes
and dislikes just by watching him,"
she said, making notes on her tablet
again. "Next time I'll ask Nathaniel
to name some more for me, too."
"Thank you," Hannah said. "It's better
to let him work off all that energy
in here than on the bus!"
"It sure is," Lightwall agreed. "I
think we made good progress today."
"I'm glad," Hannah said. "Experienced mother
or not, I still worry about him. His body is quirky."
"It's natural to worry," Lightwall said. "We'll
figure it out sooner or later, though. At least
he seems to like me and tolerate therapy well."
"That's a relief," Hannah said. "I was afraid
that he'd scream through the whole session."
"Toddlers scream when they don't know
what else to do," Lightwall said. "Once
he learns what his body needs and how
to tell you that, he won't scream as much."
"I hope so," Hannah said. "We think that
he has super-senses, possibly combined
with sensory processing issues, so it
just complicates everything."
"It does, but we can work through
that too," Lightwall said. "If it turns out
he can tell the difference between 500 and
600 grit sandpaper, then we'll teach him how to use
what he learns, even if it's something other folks
can't pick up simply by touching things."
"I really appreciate your pragmatic approach,"
Hannah said. "I have some friends who won't
freak out around my kids, but it's always good
to find more. Nathaniel's body is such a hassle
for him, and it's worse when people tease him."
"The human body is not an instrument to be used,
but a realm of one's being to be experienced,
explored, enriched and, thereby, educated,"
Lightwall said firmly. "A glitch in the system
is no excuse for being mean to anyone."
Hannah silently added the Diversitree Center
to places she would recommend. It hadn't
been around the last time she had a child
who needed therapy for sensory issues.
Then Lightwall's vidwatch vibrated,
producing a barely-audible hum.
"Five-minute warning," she said.
"It's time to think about going home."
"He can't tell time yet, but Nathaniel
is just starting to get the hang of
soon and later," Hannah said.
When the timer vibrated again,
Lightwall said, "We're done for today."
"Aww," said Nathaniel, dragging his feet.
"I'm glad you like this place. We can play
in here again when you come back next week,"
said Lightwall. She took Nathaniel gently
by the hand and led him around the walls.
"Say goodbye to the sensory play room.
Goodbye, swing! Goodbye, toys!"
"Goodbye, blocks," said Nathaniel.
"Goodbye, squishy floor."
Lightwall handed him back to
Hannah, who noticed that he
seemed more willing to hold
onto her hand than to be held.
It wasn't necessarily secure yet,
but it was still an improvement on
his frequent attempts to wriggle loose.
"Thank you for your help," Hannah said.
"We look forward to seeing you next week."
Then she walked Nathaniel out.
"Goodbye, yellow house,"
he said. "Hello, bus!"
Hannah laughed. "Hello, bus,"
she agreed as they climbed on.
"Find us two seats and sit nicely."
Nathaniel found two seats and
sat down, then promptly fell asleep.
Hannah decided to count her blessings.
* * *
The Muffler (Hannah Patterson) -- She has straight black hair now streaked with silver, hazel eyes blending brown and green, and tan skin. Hannah works for SPOON, raising children with superpowers who need foster or adoptive care. Her usual limit was two at a time, but she has just taken on a set of five siblings-of-choice.
Origin: Her powers grew in slowly over time. As more children began to manifest superpowers, she realized that her gifts could help them when nobody else could, so she became a foster mother.
Uniform: Street clothes. Hannah usually wears a light colored top with darker pants or skirt, and sometimes a cardigan over the top.
Qualities: Master (+6) Foster Mom, Expert (+4) Eyes in the Back of Her Head, Expert (+4) Soup Contacts, Good (+2) Crafts, Good (+2) Never Mess with the Mommy, Good (+2) Pillar of the Local Church, Good (+2) Sports Fan, Good (+2) Stamina
Poor (-2) Love Life
Powers: Good (+2) Power Nullification, Average (0) Empathy
Motivation: Love makes a house a home.
Howl (Nathaniel) -- He has limp curly brown hair, brown eyes, and fair skin. He's pudgy with baby fat. Nathaniel is allergic to wool and a lot of other things. This makes him a fussy eater and reluctant to try new foods. He is often cranky; even with his Super-Senses damped down, the environment is overwhelming for him. His experience of abandonment makes him clingy with his new family.
Origin: He was born with his powers, and his mother abandoned him when he was three because of them. First Danso and later the Muffler take care of Nathaniel, keeping his Super-Senses turned down so they don't bother him as much.
Uniform: Play clothes. He needs smooth, soft, tagless, seamless clothes as much as possible. He detests shoes and socks, always trying to kick them off.
Qualities: Good (+2) Cautious, Good (+2) Cuddly, Good (+2) Loud
Poor (-2) Allergies
Powers: Average (0) Super-Senses
Vulnerability: Sensory processing disorder. Either Nathaniel lacks the required auxiliary powers that make Super-Senses bearable or they just haven't grown in yet.
Motivation: To stay with people.
Lightwall (Candice Diversey) -- She has fair skin with freckles, blue eyes, and long hair that glows in multiple colors. She has a teardrop piercing at the outer corner of each eye. They are set with GPS locator pips and controllers that allow her to block out the infrared and/or ultraviolet vision if those become distracting. The pips fluoresce when her hair glows. She is currently 21 years old, recently graduated from college. Lightwall lives in Onion City. She works at a center for people with sensory processing disorders, and helps Nathaniel learn to cope with his super-senses.
Origin: Her parents lived in a cheap apartment in a shabby neighborhood near a nuclear power plant until she was several years old, and suspect that of causing her superpowers. Candice was born with salt-and-pepper hair. As she grew, it developed variegation in shades of golden, strawberry, and dark blonde. Then in gradeschool the brighter shades of pink, purple, green, yellow, and blue developed. At puberty, it began to glow. Eventually Lightwall learned how to turn the glow off and on, but the colors remain random and change slowly over time.
Uniform: On duty, she wears a plain white therapy uniform. Off duty, she likes playful clothes, often in combinations of colors or with funny pictures and slogans on them.
Qualities: Good (+2) Energetic, Good (+2) Kinesthetic Intelligence, Good (+2) Loves Children, Good (+2) Sailing Enthusiast, Good (+2) Sensory Therapist
Poor (-2) Being Inconspicuous
Powers: Expert (+4) Glowing Neon Hair, Good (+2) Expanded Vision
She can see into both the infrared and ultraviolet ranges.
Motivation: To help people make sense of their senses.
* * *
"The human body is not an instrument to be used, but a realm of one's being to be experienced, explored, enriched and, thereby, educated."
-- Thomas Hanna
The Diversitree Center has a street front and a side entrance. A rooftop patio looks over the street.
See a floor plan of the basement. At the base of the stairwell is an activity corner for children. The large room in the upper left is the Snoezelen Room (see it with lights on or lights off). Next to it is the quiet room for children, then the sensory play room. The rectangle in the upper right is the first aid room, divided into physical (left) and emotional (right) first aid sections. Folding screens are used to separate the two sections of the first aid room. A large open office area fills the far right. Adjacent to that is the kitchenette and breakroom. The L-shaped room in the bottom right is the mechanical and storage room. The small room above the two offices is the adult quiet room. Lightwall's office is the one immediately under that, and it has a play corner. The meeting room is in the bottom left corner.
This is the children's activity corner in the basement stairwell. The left quote says, "Every child is an artist." The activity corner is decorated with soft, textured pillows and comforters. It has shelves of books and workbooks, coloring books and mazes. There are baskets full of crayons, colored pencils, and fidgets. The black rug is a storyboard for felt cutouts.
Here is the sensory play room. Standard lighting throughout the Diversitree Center uses clinical-grade light panels adjusted to the daylight spectrum. They don't use fluorescent lights because the noise and flicker bother many people with sensory issues.
The quiet room for adults is located near center left on the floor plan, just above the two private offices. It is separated from the rest of the floor by a perforated folding screen, to minimize upsetting children with separation anxiety if their parent needs a minute to relax.
Here is a floor plan of the ground floor. The sand therapy room in the upper right corner. The waiting room is toward the lower right. The multipurpose room is in the lower left. Here you can see the reception and staircase, with the cafe visible at center right. This is the reception desk and a learning room. Glass blocks allow light while protecting privacy.
This is the floor plan for the second floor. It features offices, a board room, nap room, mini gym, and rooftop patio. This is the upstairs walkway and second floor reading corner.
Behind the Diversitree Center, their inclusive playground lies adjacent to a park. This sprayground is shared by the Diversitree Center and adjacent park.
The Jim-Jam Building is a multipurpose facility. See floor plans for the indoor playground on the red sublevel and the food court on the orange sublevel. Here is one for the lower ground floor mall on the yellow sublevel. The food zone on these levels consists primarily of shops that sell snacks or food-related goods such as cookware. The cluster on the right of this floor has small restaurants. There are also floor plans for the ground floor mall on the green level, the upper ground floor mall on the blue level, the second floor offices on the indigo level, the third floor offices on the violet level, and the fourth floor offices on the white level.
Here is a colored view of the playground with a spaceship, game room, playhouse, and climbing wall. This is the red slide.
The orange sublevel holds the food court with several small restaurants along with a much larger one.
The yellow sublevel features stores and a sitting area.
The green level offers a sitting area with plants between the stores, and living walls in many places.
The blue level has a presentation area.
The indigo level has open office cubicles and private offices.
The purple level has cubicles too.
The white level has open office space.
Early intervention generally covers special needs prior to age three. After that, children may benefit from more complex services such as counseling. Play therapy spans the range of childhood, although different ages may prefer different activities. One interesting thing about Terramagne-America is that its better health care system puts less pressure on people to do everything right now in order to make the insurance pay for it. This is crucial for very young children, who lack the patience for long sessions of assessment before anyone will help them. Instead, preschool therapy often begins with a casual introduction and aims to build rapport before trying anything too demanding. Assessments are woven into play in small amounts to minimize the chance of distress. Sensory processing disorder is one thing that may benefit from treatment such as sensory integration activities. These can help whether the issue is a distortion of senses, difficulty processing sensory input in the brain, or extremely acute senses -- but you'll get better results if you know which of those applies to a given case.
Apple-Peanut Butter Smileys make a healthy snack.
A lot of therapy, especially for children, is designed to make them "seem normal" and please adults, instead of addressing the things they want or need to do but can't. This can be abusive and life-wrecking. Person-centered therapy focuses on assisting the client to solve problems by using their own inner resources. This guide to developing goals has examples to contrast conventional with person-centered goals. Even when therapy needs to include exterior goals (such as minimizing destructive behavior) it is essential to incorporate the client's own desires or else they tend to perceive it as harmful rather than helpful.
Measuring trauma such as using this graphic can help understand how much and what kind of impact it has on someone's life. Similarly, this model works by stacking wooden cars. Each event gets its own car. Then you could drive the cars along roads to show how badly each event messed up your life.
Teaching children colors and numbers is part of early childhood. Here are some milestones for preschoolers. Note that children tend to race ahead in their area(s) of greatest skill, hit most milestones on the average, and lag behind with things they find very difficult.
Preschoolers often learn the primary colors first. There are only three of these and they're easy to tell apart. Here's a primary color wheel to fill in.
Around kindergarten age, most kids can learn the basic rainbow if they haven't already figured it out. Here's a secondary color wheel to fill in.
In grade school, children learn about color theory -- more names for colors, how to blend them, and sets of related colors. Here is a color theory worksheet. But kids who like colors or live in an artistic family may learn this stuff a lot sooner. Nathaniel has picked up a lot from watching his older siblings do their homework. When you're getting your worksheets online and printing them at home, it's no trouble to make a spare so your baby brother can "help" you do your homework. Some teachers will give extra credit if you bring in the extra page(s) and comment on what your younger sibling is learning, which teaches child development alongside art.
Nathaniel leaping to the conclusion that pink goes with red and maroon is precocious. Understanding a color gradient is a lot more sophisticated than memorizing that red, yellow, and blue or green, blue, and purple make sets. This is something that confuses most children because lighter and darker colors can have the same name: turquoise, azure, and sapphire are all "blue."
Counting and numbers can be taught with games or worksheets. Children often begin counting with simple objects. Among the first things they learn to do is answer questions about how many things there are. Once children know the numbers, they can count on their fingers.
Counting objects and tracing a number on each one is a typical kindergarten task. Younger children who like math or coloring may enjoy playing with the same worksheets even if they don't do everything "correctly." Let them play with whatever pages appeal to them; they'll figure out the details at their own pace. Nathaniel loves these things, and is about at the stage where he either tries to color each item in a different color, or scribbles over the dotted numbers. This shows awareness of the targets, rather than marking randomly all over the page.
Keeping toddlers safe is a challenge, more so in some families than others. For some people, a vest-style toddler harness is a comfortable method, and some even have a pocket on the front. You can make your own or buy one. (Don't do this if the child hates it, because it can be abusive if incompatible.) Regarding safety games, Terramagne-America has a series of children's books called Bom Bom Bunny that teach basic skills such as freezing in place, being quiet, staying out of the way, paying attention, running away from danger, and screaming your head off.
"Super fine" sandpaper has CAMI grit of 400, 500, or 600. This is useful in all kinds of art and activities. Sandpaper letters help students learn the alphabet. It's especially useful for touch-dominant or kinesthetic learners. You can buy some or make your own.
Making transitions between locations or activities is an important life skill. These tips for autistic children can make life easier for everyone, especially toddlers who have not yet learned how to make their own transitions fluently. Here is a workshop plan for learning how to assist children in switching activities and some matching tips to try at home. In any case, it is vital to remember that inertia and momentum apply to people as well as objects. Some people are agile, able to switch tasks easily, but they may not have much sustained focus. People who really get into what they're doing may produce much more robust results -- but then have difficulty changing to something else. Inertia is particularly common in autistic people but also appears as the creative "zone." For many people, concentration requires a sizable block of uninterrupted time. Learn to work with the strengths and weaknesses you have.