Special needs is a very broad term and every situation is unique. Educational toys for special needs children, can help us to make their learning experience happy and enjoyable. With proper care and education, every child can reach his or her full potential. Children with special needs only needs a little bit more attention, teaching, care – and love.
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Special needs is an umbrella term for a wide array of diagnoses, from those that resolve quickly to those that will be a challenge for life and those that are relatively mild to those that are profound. It covers developmental delays, medical conditions, psychiatric conditions, and congenital conditions that require accommodations so children can reach their potentials. No matter the reason, the designation is useful. It can help you obtain needed services, set appropriate goals, and gain an understanding of your child and the stresses your family may face.
They’re children who have a disability or a combination of disabilities that makes learning or other activities difficult. Special-needs children include those who have: Mental Retardation, which causes them to develop more slowly than other children. Speech and Language Impairment, such as a problem expressing themselves or understanding others. Physical Disability, such as vision problem, cerebral palsy, or other conditions. Learning Disabilities, which distort messages from their senses. Emotional Disabilities, such as antisocial or other behavioral problems.
What Makes Special Needs Toys and Games Special?
The only thing that makes most special needs toys “special” is the label, and the fact that the toys are purchased for a child with some type of developmental difference. But the best toys and games for special needs children do have some elements in common:
- They are safe and fun for kids with sensory and/or physical or motor planning challenges. Good choices might include soap bubbles and fidget toys while a poor choice would be a loud computer-based game that requires complex interactions to play.
- They require relatively low levels of focused attention, language use, and physical coordination, such as a backyard slide or swing. The board game Monopoly would not be a good choice.
- They are flexible enough to be used or played in a variety of ways, with or without multiple partners. Blocks or Legos are great examples of such a toy, while a badminton set is not.
The two elements that make toys and games therapeutic for our children with:
- cognitive, or
- attentional challenges
are very simple. They are enjoyed with another person who is willing and able to use the experience to help build skills and should be physically engaging and fun or pleasant and calming for the player.
Top 10 Toys and Games for Children With Special Needs
- Blocks, Legos, and Similar Building Toys: Basic blocks and other building toys are incredibly versatile and can grow with your child. Your child might start by lining them up but can easily graduate to building structures, tunnels, roads, and more. Most importantly, these basic toys are ideal for building symbolic play skills and social collaboration—especially when you play with your child.
- Simple, Safe Bounce Toys: Kids with sensory issues (as well as most other kids!) love to bounce. Bounce balls and mini-trampolines with handles are a great choice.
- Swings and Slides: Therapeutic swings offer vestibular stimulation to individuals with sensory processing disorders and other special needs. The gentle back-and-forth motion helps calm overstimulated children, improves balance, and develops important motor skills.
- Water Toys: Anything that uses water and soap can be great fun, interactive, and engaging for a child with special needs. Try a variety of options, from Slip-n-Slides to interactive sprinklers to wind-up submarines and boat. Consider squirt toys if you’re willing to handle the mess!
- Bubbles and Foam: Soap bubbles can be fun to pop, chase, and watch. But blowing bubbles successfully also requires good motor control as well as a certain amount of patience. There is a wide range of fun bubble-making and foam-making toys on the market; one or more is likely to be perfect for you and your child.
- Puzzles: Puzzles are the ideal choice if your child prefers more sedentary activities. Like most of the toys described, they can grow in difficulty with your child’s abilities, and they are fun to do together. These days, it’s easy to have puzzles made with any image you choose, so why not choose a photograph or character that your child already loves?
- “Sensory” Toys: Contrary to what marketers may tell you, a sensory toy is really any object that provides sensory feedback. That can be any toy that buzzes or beeps. It can also be putty, play dough, clay, “fidget” or “stress” balls, worry beads, and so forth. They really can help reduce anxiety.
- Simple Card and Board Games: Chess may (or may not!) be beyond your special needs child’s abilities, but there’s a good chance that classic kids’ games are not. If your child has the attention span and interest, try teaching some of the classics. Go Fish, Uno, War, Checkers, Connect Four, and many other games are short and simple but do require turn-taking, social interaction, and some strategic thinking.
- Art Supplies: Large crayons, markers, and colored pencils can be a lot of fun for kids with any level of ability and skill. Coloring books are a great choice for many children, as they keep the fun within bounds and allow kids to “create” their favorite characters. Clay is both artistic and therapeutic.
- Pop-Up Tunnels and Play Houses: Easy to store, pop-up tunnels, playhouses, and tents are wonderful toys for kids with special needs. They support gross motor development, provide a sensory escape, and promote symbolic play when used creatively (parental help may be required)
I hope this page has been helpful and informative to you.
Please share your thoughts, ideas and suggestions with me.
Best regards always