Top 10 Tips for Choosing Toys for Children with Special Needs
- AblePlayTM is a website developed by National Lekotek Center which provides parents of children with special needs and the professionals who work with them a unique search tool to match AblePlay-Rated toys to disability categories. AblePlay evaluates the toys and their appropriateness within four disability categories -- physical, communicative, sensory and cognitive, taking the guesswork out of toy shopping for children with special needs.
- Do you need additional help selecting a toy for a child with disabilities? Here are the questions that the play experts at the National Lekotek Center ask when choosing developmentally appropriate toys for differently-abled kids.
- Multi-sensory appeal
Does the toy respond with lights, sounds, or movement to engage the child? Are there contrasting colors? Does it have a scent? Is there texture?
- Method of activation
Will the toy provide a challenge without frustration? What is the force required to activate? What are the number and complexity of steps required to activate?
- Places the toy will be used
Will the toy be easy to store? Is there space in the home? Can the toy be used in a variety of positions such as side-lying or on a wheelchair tray?
- Opportunities for success
Can play be open-ended with no definite right or wrong way? Is it adaptable to the child's individual style, ability, and pace?
- Current popularity
Is it a toy that will help the child with disabilities feel like "any other kid?" Does it tie in with other activities like books and art sets that promote other forms of play?
Does the toy allow for creativity, uniqueness, and making choices? Will it give the child experience with a variety of media?
Does it have adjustable height, sound volume, speed, and level of difficulty?
- Child's individual abilities
Does the toy provide activities that reflect both developmental and chronological ages? Does it reflect the child's interests and age?
- Safety and Durability
Does the toy fit with the child's size and strength? Does it have moisture resistance? Is the toy and its parts sized appropriately? Can it be washed and cleaned?
- Potential for interaction
Will the child be an active participant during use? Will the toy encourage social engagement with others?
The National Lekotek Center, a division of Anixter Center, is a non-profit organization with a national network of affiliates dedicated to making play and learning accessible for children with disabilities and provides supportive services for their families. For additional information on toys, play and technology for children with disabilities, please visit us at www.ableplay.org or www.lekotek.org.
Reprinted with the permission of Lekotek.
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