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Finding the Right Toy for Your Child with a Development Disability

Children with developmental disabilities are unique in many ways, including the way they play and the way they view the world.

During the holidays, it is common for family and friends to ask what type of toys your child likes, so they can give them something they will truly appreciate. What people may not know is that children with developmental disabilities have a specific set of needs that will influence the type of toys that they should play with.

Unlike children that do not have a developmental disability, there are extra risks and hazards around toys in the market. On top of choking hazards and poisoned materials, children with developmental disabilities run the risk of being overstimulated or triggered by certain toys. Finding the right type of toy for your loved one with a developmental disability can be challenging but rewarding in the end when they have a toy that they truly enjoy playing with.

If you have questions or concerns regarding your loved one’s toys and whether they are appropriate for their diagnosis, be sure to ask their doctor.

Cause & Effect Toys and Puzzles

Cause and effect toys can be a great way to promote hand-eye coordination, repetitive movements and activities, playful interaction between child and parent and sensory exploration, especially for children with autism. Cause and effects toys will show teach the child about the cognitive concept of cause and effect. A pressed button may trigger the tune to a song, therefore showing the child that if they press the button, the song will be played. They will learn about repetitive actions by pressing the button multiple times to hear about the song. There are several types of cause and effect toys, such as pop-up toys, light-up toys, water squirter toys, and shape toys!

Puzzles can provide developmental benefits to children with disabilities. When a child plays with a puzzle, he or she will learn how to pick up the puzzle pieces, attempt to put them together to make them fit and learn how to find connecting pieces. This will help children with motor delays a way to improve their skills while having fun!


Fidget Toys

Children that have Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), anxiety, autism or sensory processing challenges have a hard time not fidgeting in their daily life. Their brain is engaged and triggers their hands, feet and fingers to be busy as well. Fidget toys can provide an outlet for these children to keep their hands busy. There are quite a few fidget toys that can be purchased to help these children! They include stress balls or other squeezable items, play dough or any other slime sort of substance, specialized cushions that are designed to help children keep their balance and concentration and the most recently popular fidget spinners.


Oral Motor Stimulators

Children with disabilities and special needs may experience anxiety or overstimulation that causes them to try to soothe themselves by chewing on anything that they can get their hands on. This presents a risk that they may chew on something that they can choke on or swallow. Oral motor stimulator toys can provide a safe way for children with disabilities to have that oral fixation and soothe their anxiety or overstimulation. Oral motor stimulator toys can come in different shapes and sizes, but all serve the same purpose. There are bracelets that are chewable, necklaces that have chewable pieces on them, pencil toppers that are chewable and even toy cars that are made out of chewable materials.

Sensory Toys

Sensory toys are designed specifically for children with disabilities, have sensory processing disorders or children with autism. These toys are made to stimulate one or more of the five senses: sight, sound, tough, taste and smell. Some children with disabilities may enjoying feeling certain textures, smelling certain aromas, or hearing a certain sound. There are several different types of sensory toys that can help stimulate a child’s brain and give them the sort of sensory response that he or she desires. These include soothing rain tubes, massage rollers, light up toys and sound puzzles.


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