TheNational Lekotek Centeris a non-profit organization that uses interactive play experiences to promote the inclusion of children with special needs into family and community life. To guide shoppers when making gift-buying decisions. The National Lekotek Center offers --
Top Ten Tips for Choosing Toys for Children with Disabilities
1. Multisensory Appeal -- Does the toy respond with lights, sounds, or movement to engage the child? Are there contrasting colors? Does it have a scent? Is there texture?
2. Method of Activation -- Will the toy provide a challenge without frustration? What is the force required to activate? What are the number and complexity of steps required to activate?
3.Where Toy Will Be Used -- Will the toy be easy to store? Is there space in the home? Can the toy be used in a variety of positions such as side-lying or on wheelchair tray?
4.Opportunities for Success-- Can play be open-ended with no definite right or wrong way? Is it adaptable to the child's individual style, ability and pace?
5.Current Popularity-- Is it a toy that will help the child with disabilities feel like "any other kid?" Does it tie in with other activities like books and art sets that promote other forms of play?
6.Self-Expression-- Does the toy allow for creativity, uniqueness, and choice-making? Will it give the child experience with a variety of media?
7.Adjustability-- Does it have adjustable height, sound volume, speed, level of difficulty?
8.Child's Individual Characteristics-- Does the toy provide activities that reflect both developmental and chronological ages? Does it reflect the child's interests and age?
9.Safety and Durability-- Consider the child's size and strength. Does the toy have moisture resistance? Is the toy and its parts sized appropriately? Can it be washed and cleaned?
10.Potential for Interaction-- Will the child be an active participant during use? Will the toy encourage social engagement with others?
This was brought to my attention by Chris Coleman who told me about a new, free website, AblePlay , designed to help parents make the best match between the toys and their children. Check my post on Vicki's Blog about that message. Good luck shopping for the kids!