Toys for Children with Special Needs- From Move Forward PT

Great article posted by the American Physical Therapy Association’s publication, Move Forward PT

Here are the highlights from the article, but it’s very informative, so I recommend following the link to see the whole article.

The different delays discussed in this article include:

  • Autism
  • Autism w/o communication
  • Kids who are delayed but can crawl
  • Kids who are delayed who can stand
  • Kids who are using motorized chairs for mobility

There are also some videos with recommendations about toys at the bottom of the article.

Selecting Toys for Children With Developmental Disabilities

First, identify the child’s play capability and consider his or her individual needs. Second, consider the skills that a toy can help expand or develop.

The following tips are not all inclusive, but provide guidance on several popular conditions:

For children who have difficulty communicating as a result of autism:

Select toys that encourage repetition of movements, have purpose, and promote activities that use both sides of the body together. Toys should not be battery operated or include lights or electronic sounds. Examples include:

Bold wooden toys

  • Puzzles (promote fine motor skills, communication and problem solving)
  • Blocks (all sizes and shapes for problem solving, manipulation, and squatting to floor to pick up)
  • Nesting blocks, cardboard bricks, or textured blocks

Picture cards and story books

  • Activity cards/mats (help with cooperative plan and communication through movement)
  • Ready, Set, Move™ Activity Set
  • Social Stories™ (books that require you to act out movements while learning social expectations and communication techniques)

Toys that encourage repetition of activities

  • Shape sorters, peg boards, Light-Brite™ (assist with fine motor skills and sitting balance)
  • Higher-level cards with pieces to form a shape (help develop fine motor skills, problem solving, and communication)
  • Lego® or other types of toys that require building and manipulation of objects to create things (encourage development of gross and fine motor skills and communication techniques)
  • Plastic containers filled with everyday, household items, such as utensils to imitate cooking
  • Aqua Sand (encourages pouring, dumping, scooping, squatting, sequencing, and choices of color)
  • Trains

For children who have autism, but do not exhibit communication needs:

Select toys that encourage use of both sides of the body and repetition of a purposeful activity. Examples include:

Toys and games with pragmatics included (help with understanding non-verbal cues and social situations)

  • Social Stories™ (books that require one to act out movements while learning social expectations and communication techniques)
  • “Guess Who” books
  • Board games that ask simple questions, such as Hedbanz

Action and movement games

  • Hullabaloo
  • Twister (encourages cooperation with others and intense motor planning and coordination skills)
  • Games that encourage running and chasing activities with a rule book to help explain the game
  • Bowling games on the lawn
  • Carpet square hopscotch games

For children who have motor delay with crawling capability:

Select toys that encourage fine motor practice, sitting balance, mobility, problem solving and communication, and require repetition of movement. Examples include:

Computer assisted games (for fine motor practice)

Bowling sets

Musical instruments

Toys that require repetition of movement and encourage mobility

  • Shape sorters, peg boards, Light-Brite(tm) (assist with fine motor skills and sitting balance)
  • Higher-level cards with pieces to form a shape (help develop fine motor skills, problem solving, and communication)
  • Lego® or other types of toys that require building and manipulation of objects to create things (encourage development of gross and fine motor skills and communication techniques)
  • Plastic containers filled with everyday, household items, such as utensils to imitate cooking
  • Aqua Sand (encourages pouring, dumping, scooping, squatting, sequencing, and choices of color)
  • Trains
  • Exercise balls, tunnels, and pillows to crawl over

For children who have motor delay and standing capability:

Select toys that encourage fine motor practice and the imitation of daily activities. Also, choose toys that require repetition of movement and encourage mobility. Examples include:

Activities to imitate daily activities

  • Play kitchen
  • Play work bench
  • Train set on a tabletop

Board games

Movement games

  • Bowling sets
  • Push toys: shopping carts, stroller for dolls, cars/ride-ons
  • Containers filled with toys to encourage bending, squatting, stacking, and ball play
  • Musical toys

Toys that require repetition of movement and encourage mobility

  • Shape sorters, peg boards, Light-Brite(tm) (assist with fine motor skills and sitting balance)
  • Higher-level cards with pieces to form a shape (help develop fine motor skills, problem solving, and communication)
  • Lego® or other types of toys that require building and manipulation of objects to create things (encourage development of gross and fine motor skills and communication techniques)
  • Plastic containers filled with everyday, household items, such as utensils to imitate cooking
  • Aqua Sand (encourages pouring, dumping, scooping, squatting, sequencing, and choices of color)
  • Trains
  • Dress up items (be mindful of zippers, snaps and buttons)

For children who use motorized chairs for mobility:

Select toys that encourage manipulative activities that develop arm strength. Examples include:

Manipulative activities for those with arm strength

  • Balls
  • Peg boards
  • Arts and crafts
  • Silly Putty®, Play-Doh®, magnets
  • Erector® sets/Lego®
  • Basketball hoop
  • Bowling
  • T-ball set or similar games that involve throwing (golf, football, corn hole, bean-bag toss)
  • Adapted swing

Manipulative activities for those who are developing arm strength

  • Musical instruments
  • Play-Doh®


Categories: Child Development, News Articles, Toy Talk

Tags: , , , , , ,

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