For children with autism, developmental disabilities or other special needs, toys are often more than just playthings. The right toys for your child with special needs can provide opportunities to learn, grow and develop. They can also be rewards or objects to calm and soothe. By encouraging interactive play, toys can help your child socialize with others.
Choosing the best toys for your child is important to promote their intellectual, social and emotional development. In this post, we will share tips to help you select appropriate, high quality toys for your child with special needs.
How To Choose An Appropriate Toy
With so many toys to choose from, parents may feel overwhelmed by the multitude of options. Finding a developmentally appropriate toy that engages your child can be a challenge. While each child has different needs and preferences, good toys share some common features. Here are a few qualities to look for the next time you are toy shopping:
- Quality materials. As with anything you give your child, safety should be a top priority. Toys made from quality materials last longer and reduce the risk of injury that may result from breaking a toy. Look for a toy that feels solid and durable when you pick it up. Washable toys are a must, especially if your child puts things in their mouth.
- Large parts. Avoid giving your child anything with small pieces. Children who have challenges with fine motor skills play better with large components, and it only takes a second for a child to put a small piece in their mouth. In addition to preventing choking hazards, large parts also make it easier to keep track of toys.
- Encourage fine motor skills. While you should avoid any small removable pieces, toys can help children refine their fine motors skills by encouraging them to push, pull, squeeze, slide or spin different components.
- Promote interaction. Look for toys that encourage your child to respond verbally or interact with others. If your child has siblings, having toys that they can play with together will help them bond.
- Improve concentration. To promote focus and learning, choose a toy that enables your child to learn patterns or play games. Some good options include musical toys, handheld games or light-up puzzles.
- Engage their senses. Children with autism or other special needs often enjoy toys that incorporate sensory stimulation. Look for toys that use lights, sounds or tactile elements to encourage play.
- Teach new skills. As technology has advanced, electronic educational toys have become more interactive and more affordable. There are also a variety of traditional toys like blocks and puzzles that help teach colors, letters, numbers, communication skills and other important concepts.
Examples Of Great Toys
While appropriate toys for your child with special needs will vary based on their developmental stage and interests, here are some examples of quality toys for children with special needs:
- Monkey balance board from Alex Toys. This sturdy wooden balance board encourages active play and promotes gross motor skill development. With its durable construction, it can be used indoors or outdoors, and its 200-pound weight limit accommodates both younger and older children.
- Body Pod sensory sock. This body sleeve provides feedback so children with sensory challenges or developmental delays can improve their coordination. When the child moves, the Body Pod pushes back and provides kinesthetic and visual stimulation.
- Gravity blanket or lap pad. These weighted devices promote feelings of security and calm for children with anxiety or sensory challenges.
- Tote & Go Laptop from VTech. In addition to teaching words, phrases and numbers, this cause-and-effect toy promotes interaction by encouraging children to respond verbally.
- Duplos blocks. These blocks come in a variety of sizes, colors and themes, so there are options to fit nearly any developmental stage. By playing with tactile toys like this, children develop spatial awareness and improve their fine motor skills.
- Glow in the dark PlayFoam. This moldable, luminescent foam encourages creative, tactical play. Best of all, it doesn’t stick to hands, clothes, furniture or floors, a big plus for children and parents.
No matter what challenges your child experiences, the right educational and behavioral support can help them reach their full potential. Lexington Services provides a variety of services for children with autism and developmental disabilities and their families. Click here to learn more about our customizable services for children of all ages.
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