Today more and more toy companies are creating and marketing toys for children with special needs. These toys facilitate attention, make them laugh, and can promote play skills that sometimes require extra support for children to develop. When choosing toys for special needs children, consider things that are meaningful to them.
Do they love music, cause and effect toys, messy play, high energy physical games, turn taking games where they have an opportunity to win, or simply toys that promote and feed their curiosity?
Tactile toys: Toys that are fun to experience new textures and feelings through the hands can assist in building hand-eye coordination, attention and concentration as well as the fine motor skills required for hand writing, doing up zips and buttons, and engaging them in something that is interesting!
Language toys: Language and communication is a part of everyday life. Some children have difficulties in these areas, so choosing the right special needs toys that help to promote these skills can really support their development. Consider toys that provide rich language experiences and help you to support children to build their vocabularies, cause and effect toys, toys that can be played with cooperatively and that provide valuable interaction opportunities, and/or perhaps toys that help to integrate sounds and encourage imitation of music or rhythms. Consider also how toys can be played within a group, as this can promote social communication skills and peer interactions and relationships.
Imagination: It is important for all children to develop their imagination skills. Children with special needs, such as Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), sometimes lack these skills, so it is increasingly important to assist in introducing opportunities for these skills to develop through play. Toys that involve creativity leave the doors of imaginative play open to any possibilities! Special needs toys that include building, painting, creating noise or change to the environment are great for using the imagination.
Self esteem and confidence: Children with special needs can often find everyday activities and games very challenging. Remember, they are just kids and kids love to play games! When choosing special needs toys consider the level of skill they require and if it is achievable for them. Choosing a toy that sets them up for success will encourage increased self esteem and confidence in your child, which is a great starting point to build from when developing other skills.
Social Skills: Social skills are an integral part of learning how to be involved and included in social situations. Consider games and toys that encourage turn taking, learning how to be a good loser and understanding how to follow the set rules of a game.
Happy teaching and learning!
My Diffability Australia