Articles and Topics
Do you have toys for special needs children?
Q: My son was born with bone deformities. Do you have special toys for children with handicaps? (Lisa from the Bronx)

I have a 2-year-old with a disability. She has Down Syndrome and I am always looking for new toys to keep her stimulated and interested. Please help. (Becky)
Lisa and Becky
A: When I receive this type of question from parents, my heart overflows with the love I know they have for their child, and the many challenges I know they must face. In addition to your question, I have received several similar inquiries regarding toys for children with special needs. We recently added a section to this web site to help parents and caregivers of special needs children choose appropriate and appealing toys. From our home page, click on the link “For Special Needs Kids”, which will take you to our site titled, “Toys & Playtime Tips for Children with Special Needs.” Also, I suggest you visit the Let’s Play Project’s web site at http://letsplay.buffalo.edu/. It provides information about toys for special needs children, as well as adapting toys for them. It discusses the importance of play in their development, and provides a list of other resources and references.

I’m so glad you’re looking for ways to provide play experiences for your child. Many parents are so overwhelmed with meeting their child’s physical needs, they forget to think about toys and play. And yet, even children who are not mobile can enjoy the action and reaction of toys, especially ones that stimulate their senses and are easy to activate. There are so many toys available today that are appropriate for children with special needs. Of particular interest are toys with lights, sounds, movement and action; toys that are responsive and reactive to your child’s touch. And you might find that toys designed for younger children are also appropriate for older children with special needs, because they focus on specific skills in a developmentally appropriate way. I suggest you look for toys that match your child’s skills and interests, because playing with them will provide enjoyment and a sense of accomplishment for your child. If you haven’t already done so, talk to your child’s pediatrician—and perhaps even an occupational therapist—about providing specific suggestions regarding your child’s developmental needs.
Kathleen Alfano Ph.D. Director of Child Research at Fisher-Price®