The holiday season is in full swing and gift guides have been published everywhere guiding parents on what the hottest toys and games are this year. Many of the guides have breakdowns for ages, gender, types of toys and price point, but what they don’t have is a toy guide for children with special needs. Those parents will need a bit more help when it comes to selecting the right toy for their child.
Gina Maranga, Director of Program Operations at Block Institute, a Brooklyn educational facility dedicated to serving the needs of children and adults with developmental disabilities, has put together some tips for parents when it comes to selecting toys for their child with special needs:
For children under 1 year old – Soft cuddly toys that can be activated to play music; busy/pop up boxes that have a cause and effect response; large, soft plastic, oddly shaped toys that are easy to grab and manipulate.
For children 1 -3 years old – Shape and color sorters, medium sized dolls, animals and common objects to encourage labeling and pretend play; push/pull and ride on toys to encourage gross motor movement.
For children 3 – 5 years old – Toys that encourage pretend play and expanded language like puppets, dress up sets, doll houses, cooking sets, barns, garages; toys that encourage fine motor skills like chunky crayons, chalk, tempera/finger paints, puzzles, Play-Doh, peg boards, building blocks; toys that encourage early literacy like big books, books on CD/tape, matching games, bingo/lingo.