Kids come out of the womb loving toys. No, really.
From the moment children discover they can understand more about the world around them using their tactile, visual and auditory functions, they’re like little sponges, ready to learn, absorb and grow from their playful experiences.
And, while kiddos with special needs and challenges love toys, too, having parents filter them through a bit of a different lens can encourage them to grow, develop, learn and flourish just as much as their mainstream counterparts.
Special needs parents know that stimulating play is an important part of any therapeutic routine, both in a clinical setting and at home, and choosing challenging toys that stretch them cognitively, developmentally and physically is key, as long as they also provide plenty of opportunities for success as well.
Three things to keep in mind:
Be fun. Toys are one of the best parts of being a kid. Don’t overthink it. A toy might come with the highest recommendations from parenting magazines, but if your child doesn’t want to play with it, it doesn’t matter one bit. Involve your child in the selection process if possible. Major retailers that carry VTech toys offer a demo station allowing children to touch, see and hear what the toy can do. See what speaks to them. You’ll get a lot more benefits and therapeutic value from a toy that truly engages your child.
Be creative. Don’t feel you have to choose a toy based on the manufacturer’s age recommendations. If your grade school-aged child can benefit from a toy targeted to preschoolers, go for it. If your child struggles to a toy because of disabilities, come up with ways to adapt it. A stylus, included with the InnoTab 2, can help a child with fine motor delays use a touch screen device, as a small ride-on toy like the 3-in-1 Learning Zebra Scooter can help a child with gross motor challenges with motor planning.
Be safe. While the benefits of stimulating play are important for children of all capabilities, be mindful of your child’s individual abilities and needs during playtime. Consider details like rounded corners found on the Alphabet Activity Cube, accessories that limit volume like VTech’s Headphones, and supervise children who might need extra attention when getting on and off a motor-based toy.