As the festive season approaches, retail shelves across the country are filling up with the latest, must-have toys for Christmas. Some items more than others are particularly well suited for children with special needs.
Whilst there are plenty of therapy-based toys available through specialty websites for kids with conditions like autism, down syndrome, ADHD and cerebral palsy, the average toy shop will also have plenty of great options. From classic toys, to art supplies and kid-friendly tech, here are just a few ideas:
For kids with special needs who struggle with motor development, certain toys allow them to improve their motor skills, without any unnecessary frustration. For example:
- Chunky Lego Bricks: For children who struggle with fine motor skills, traditional Lego bricks can be difficult to work with. Lego’s larger ‘Duplo’ bricks, however, are the perfect size.
- Wooden Shape Puzzles: Another classic toy, wooden puzzles often require just the right amount of concentration and skill for kids with slower motor development. These puzzles, where large wooden pieces fit nicely onto a wooden base, pose enough of a challenge, while still being fun.
Arts & Crafts
For children who struggle with social skills, language skills and a short attention span, arts and crafts can be a perfect way for them to express themselves. The following art/craft supplies will allow them to communicate creatively:
- Painting Easel: An easel is the perfect gift for any kid, but it’s particularly appropriate for children with behavioural disorders like autism or ADHD. Painting allows these kids to express themselves creatively, in a less restrictive, structured environment.
- Clay & Playdough: Playdough or moulding clay is a wonderful, tactile creative outlet for kids. For children who struggle with language development, moulding letters out of these materials is a great way to encourage their written and verbal communication skills.
- Kid-Friendly Digital Cameras: A digital camera may seem like quite a grown-up toy for a child, but there are actually plenty of kid-friendly cameras on the market. For example, the colourful ‘Kidizoom’ camera by VTech is designed specifically for kids aged 3 to 9. For kids who prefer to express themselves visually, rather than through spoken language, it’s an ideal gift.
- Tablet Computers: According to Autism Speaks, there are a number of tablet apps available for children with autism. From games that inspire creativity, to learning apps that offer speech therapy, the number of online resources available to children with autism (and their parents) continues to grow.
Of course, when buying a gift for any child, keep in mind that every kid is unique. Before hitting the shops, it’s always worth giving the parents a call to see what activities and interests their little one is currently into.