Finding the right toy for any child can be a tough task! Knowing what’s hot and what’s not and what will keep them occupied without sending you around the bend with noise and flashing lights isn’t an easy call. When it comes to finding the right toy for your child with special needs, there are a few other factors to think about before making a purchase.
We’ve put together some tips to help you find the ideal new addition to the toy box.
1. Understand the Child’s Cognitive Level
Consider the child’s cognitive level. This can impact what toys or games the child is able to use. Not all children will play with a toy in the same way or even for its intended purpose. When picking out a toy or play item, exploratory play, such as picking up an object to figure out its function, and sensory play, such as utilizing an object to meet sensory needs, should be considered.
If they are working with a therapist, it is always helpful to get their recommendations. They are often working on very specific goals for the child and whatever product they recommend might reinforce what they are working on with the child.
2. Ask the Parent
If you’re buying a toy for someone else’s child and don’t know what to get you should ask the parents. They know their child best. They may have a need for things that you could help to buy as a gift. Most parents would be more than happy to answer questions and they will be touched by someone taking the time to ask questions before buying a gift for their child.
As the parents are working side-by-side with therapists and special needs care, ask the parents what the child’s top three needs are.
3. Consider the Child’s Interests
Children with special needs are not as different as other children when it comes to buying gifts. They are children and they have preferences and favourites so be thoughtful, like you would when buying for any other child.
4. Shop Online
It’s often hard to find a store that sells sensory toys geared toward children with special needs, and often they jack up the prices, so take your search online.
5. One Size Does Not Fit All
Every child is different and special needs is a very broad category. A lot of it — like any selection — would depend on the child’s needs.
Younger children tend to need toys that are sensory in nature. However, some children need playthings that help them develop social or motor skills. Look for toys that are fun, but that highlight the child’s unique strengths and will help develop abilities.
6. Consider Homemade
Sensory toys do not always have to be store bought. Get creative by giving a child the ingredients to create a toy or prepare a homemade gift. An old paper towel roll or empty cardboard box … a kitchen drawer full of cleaned food containers can provide the same, if not more, of a stimulating experience than expensive store bought toys.
So enjoy the hunt for the perfect toy and make your child’s day extra special.
What do you keep in mind when buying toys for kids who have special needs? Share your tips in the comments section below.