If childhood would have been a profession, surely toys would have been the tools of the trade. Engaging special children in play could be more challenging sometimes than other children. Just like normal children, play for autistic children needs to reflect both entertainment for the child in question as well as develop certain personality traits, coping mechanisms and thereby enhance learning. So it is with great care that one must select toys for special children. Here are 7 pointers that will help the cause.
1. Pick toys that stimulate the senses
Sensory challenges are the primary challenge when it concerns special children, especially tactile defensiveness. Toys are best to introduce tactile sensations without possible side effects. Suggested toys are books with cloth, yarn or foil attached to them, blocks featuring raised numbers or lettering, musical toys and toys with ridges, bumps and other raised elements. There are a lot of Fisher Price toys like Fun sounds flip phone, Puppy’s learning car to help children introduce tactile sensations
2. Choose toys that aid social interaction development
Cooperation is an important aspect to be taught to children growing up. Special children need to be taught the art of social interaction even more. Hence, socially interactive toys are in to enable them to develop the proper coping mechanisms to interact with the world. Board games are an excellent idea but bear in mind that the concept of losing and the frustration element can be extreme for a special child.
3. Enhance motor skills
Toys that develop motor skills like a bicycle/tricycle are advisable as they solve the basic problems like the inability to balance, fears and dealing with tactile defensiveness. When it comes to painting, using brushes is a good idea as finger painting might upset special children if paint gets smeared on body parts. A trampoline is a good idea but always with adult supervision.
4. Keep it simple
It’s always better to select toys that are non-complicated. Features that are simple like push-button and open and use toys are a better idea.
5. Shop online for toys
Buying children toys online is a good idea as there are various stores catering specifically to the needs of special children. Free advice and guidance is also on offer to help you arrive at the right decision.
6. Keep functional play in check
It is important not to go overboard in terms of functional play. There are moments when the child is addicted to a particular toy and prefers it to all else. Addictive preferences must be monitored carefully to ensure overall development. Keep this in mind while selecting the right toy.
7. Quality over quantity
Too many toys is just that-too many toys! To ease a sense of crowding and overwhelming special children, one good quality toy is a better idea than many cheaper versions. Erase clutter from the play area and hit the right button in terms of choosing the right toy.
Toys are the catalysts that simulate a child’s emotional, physical and cognitive development. Special children have to face physical, emotional and psychological challenges constantly. But the right toy can aid their learning process considerably and also provide therapeutic advantages.
This post is co-authored by our friend Swayam Ganguly. Swayam Ganguly’s novel titled “Love Films and Rock n Roll” (Alchemy Publishers) has been released recently. His next upcoming novel “Good, Bad and Ugly” (Supernova Publishers) is slated for release soon.