The number one rule when choosing toys for children with special needs is the same as when choosing a toy for any other child: safety comes first! This means choosing toys which are made of safe materials, are age and skill appropriate, and meet NZ toy safety regulations. Then it’s down to picking toys for children with special needs based on their interests and developmental and physical abilities. Let’s investigate this in more detail.
Tips on Picking Toys for Children with Special Needs
Play is an important activity for every child, regardless of their age. It teaches them to use their imagination, develop their strength and physical abilities, learn how to manipulate different materials and understand cause and effect.
When it comes to buying toys for children with special needs, consider their interests, needs and abilities first – not their condition. Each child is unique and the amount which a condition affects a child will vary widely between individuals. Here are some tips to help you decide on the right toy:
- How easy is the toy to use? Will it be too easy and quickly be set aside? Or does it require too much of a challenge and cause frustration, instead of being beneficial?
- Think about how it feels. Some kids have aversions to different textures and temperatures, so avoid toys which they will dislike touching. For instance, a child who doesn’t like cold items will avoid playing with something made of metal.
- Ask their mum or dad. There’s no better place to find out what toy would be suitable for a child than from their parents.
- See how many ways there are to play with the toy. Multiple ways of playing with a toy mean that it is interesting to play with and will entertain them for longer.
- What social interaction will it provide? Some children enjoy playing alone, others like making friends but struggle with developing the social skills needed to do so.
- Some kids with special needs enjoy knowing that a toy will repeat the same actions every time they use it. Jacob’s Ladder is a great toy choice which meets this need perfectly! Other kids love to fiddle and find that keeping their hands and fingers active helps them to concentrate. The Magic Rainbow Puzzle Ball would be ideal in this situation as it helps not only keep little fingers busy, but also develops logic thinking skills and motor-skill coordination.
What are your top tips on buying toys for kids with special needs? We’d love to know, so share them with us in the comments below.