Games encourage and stimulate the physical and cognitive development of children, so it should be a universal activity for all children regardless of their age, race, nationality or physical and social condition. Toys have a leading role in this practice, but little is known about the most appropriate toys for children who have some kind of disability, whether it is visual, auditory, motor or intellectual. Whatever the special needs of your child, the toy should not serve their limitations, but rather their possibilities and interests. It should reinforce what your child can do in order to take on more challenges.
Parents are the key factor
The family plays an important role in toy playing, and in the case of children with disabilities, it becomes a bridge between the toy and the child. Furthermore, the parents who encourage the initiative of their children and respect their pace will promote a positive stimulus. Parents can adapt toys for their child to enjoy and make the most out of them.
Motor and sensory disabilities
For children with motor disabilities, very interesting toys would be those with easy pieces to fit and large structures that do not require rapid movements. Children should have easy access to different kinds of springs, keys and other functions that the toy has. It is important to address the sensory possibilities of your child and some of the best toys for this type of endeavor are mini trampolines, finger paint sets, toys that light up, etc. For the development of fine motor skills, it is generally easy to use large toys intended for younger children, but when it comes to gross motor skills, toys are almost non-existent. For example, pushers, tricycles and bicycles have to be specially designed or modified by the parents.
Children with hearing impairments can be offered the same toys as any other child – dolls, board games, skates, bicycles and so on. Depending on the degree of hearing loss, your child can choose toys with sound effects accompanied by vibrations, lights, movements, etc. It is very helpful to have volume control and headphone output to match the child’s hearing level.
In this case, parents must not start from the limitations the children have. It is important to facilitate the game and use toys that incorporate pieces, sound effects and textures that are easy to identify by touch. Colorful toys that are very vivid, which do not have very small pieces, could be very stimulating. Cause and effect toys are the best choice such as Sing-a-ma-jigs or shape sorters. There are also special puzzles that even visually impaired children can enjoy.
Intellectual and learning difficulties
For intellectual disabilities, the range of toys may be quite large, depending on the level. Toys for school use may be an attractive option because they are designed to facilitate learning. Books are always a good learning tool, especially ones made of thick cardboard with a small number of pages and without much detail in the drawings. Board games like Go Fish and some electronic learning games are a great way to stimulate your child’s learning process.
It is essential to promote the proper development of a child in every aspect. Collecting different items can help a child learn to be neat, organized, and how to generally take care of something. There are many things that can serve the purpose of a collectible – certain types of dolls, popular action figures, toy cars, unique stones, marbles, even flowers for a herbarium. Parents should simply observe their child’s preferences.
There are always some toys that are better avoided. Video games are definitely not good for a healthy development of any kind. Toys that promote violence like guns and rifles are obviously a bad choice. When it comes to children with special needs, especially children with autism, it is best to choose toys that are not extremely loud and cannot break easily.
The most important thing for a child with a disability is the inclusion and socialization through play with other children, as well as understanding and mutual enrichment. It is very complex to create toys for each specific need, but parents must provide the full integration and development of their children (in all areas), regardless of their condition.
Did you like this article? Let us know in the comments section below! And don’t forget to share this with your friends and family!