It’s no secret that kids love toys. They see a new one on a television advertisement and tell their parents, “I want that!” If kids had their way, they would have every toy imaginable. Toys can be a great way for kids to use motor skills, learn to play by themselves, and learn to share with others.

Special Needs Toys?
But what happens when children do not have the required skills to play with their toys? Kids with special needs may not be able to play with many of the mainstream toys available. That’s why there is a market for adaptive toys for special needs children.

Finding the Right Toy for a Disabled Child
There are different adaptive toys available for different special needs. For example, a child with cerebral palsy who has poor motor skills might find switch-activated toys more helpful while a child with autism would do better with toys that promote sensory. Adaptive toys are usually made so that a special needs child can improve the skill that they are lacking.

When trying to find adaptive toys to suit your child’s needs, it is also important to keep in mind age appropriateness and the ability for your child to reach developmental goals. It is important to talk to those who regularly work with your child, such as an occupational therapist, early interventionist, pediatrician, or special education teacher. You don’t want to get your child a toy that only causes frustration.

How to Choose the Best Toys for Your Special Kid
Some things to keep in mind when finding the right adaptive toy:

  • Which of the five senses does it appeal to?
  • Will the child be able to activate the toy?
  • Where will the toy be used and will the child be able to use it in various positions? (For example, in a wheelchair or lying on the floor?)
  • Is the height and volume of the toy adjustable?
  • Will the toy allow the child to interact with others or allow the child to play on his/her own?
  • Is it safe for that child’s intellectual age, well constructed, and durable?
  • Is it appealing and interesting to the child?
  • Is it right for the child’s physical capabilities?
  • Is it suited to the child’s mental and social development?

Remember: The toy should not be fragile, breakable, or contain any toxic materials.

Switch-Activated Toys
Many special needs toys are switch-activated, meaning that a child simply presses a button to activate the toy. Some toys come with a special button installed, but for others, you will have to connect to a special switch. The button switches come in a variety of sizes, shapes, colors, and textures.

Puff or Breath-Activated Toys
Besides switches that need to be pressed, they can also come as puff switches where the child puffs into a device to activate the toy. The puff switches are for those who are severely disabled and have very limited motor skills.

Toys Are for All Children
As you can see, there is a lot to consider when finding the perfect adaptive toy for your special needs child. Adaptive toys can be very fun and rewarding but at the same time, so can toys that don’t need to be adapted. As long as the child is interested in and engages with their toy, they are learning and improving some skills they may lack. Toys are for all children, but you do have to be more selective when it comes to buying toys for your special needs child. When you do find that perfect toy for your special needs child, it can be an especially enjoyable experience.