Author: Timothy Benson

October 25, 2012 in All Blogs, Autism, Brain Injury, Cerebral Palsy, Conditions, Developmental Delay, Down Syndrome, Education and Parenting, Guest Posts, Our Blog, Stroke

In certain cases, toys can be helpful tools to help a child learn and develop. To help you with choosing toys that suit your child’s needs and skill level, here are a few key tips that can guide your search.

Speak with the child’s doctor or physical therapist to see what he or she recommends. He or she sees many other patients and has likely seen other patients that are very similar to your child in regards to abilities and specific special needs in question. Toys and activities that were successful for the other children will likely be successful with your child.

Keep it fun. By definition, toys are supposed to be fun, so parents should not lose sight of that primary objective. Parents are inundated with toy commercials that promote the next big thing and instantly grab a child’s interest. They may not provide much value beyond the initial
interest, but they can certainly be a positive factor in socialization with peers. Promote those interests so your child notices the commonality between him or her and other children rather than the differences. No matter what the disability may be, no child wants to only have “special
needs” toys.

Toys also need to be functional and within a child’s ability level. Find toys that provide children with special needs an opportunity for skill development. It should offer a challenge without becoming frustrating. For example, a child with underdeveloped muscles can benefit from a lightweight ball that is designed to be easy to throw and catch. The child still has a challenge, but it also allows for fun and gross motor development.

Offer a mix of objectives. The last thing any parent wants is for a child to feel discouraged, so it is important to offer toys with a variety of open and closed ended objectives. Toys with open-ended objectives, such as a colorful set of building blocks, take away any risk of failure while building fine motor skills. Toys with definite solutions, such as puzzles, help children develop problem-solving skills while also boosting a child’s sense of accomplishment when he or she achieves the objective.

What are your experiences with purchasing toys for your child? Share your own tips and advice below!

About the author

Timothy Benson wrote one article for Enabled Kids.

Tim Benson is a former 7th grade teacher with several years’ experience teaching children with special needs. He is currently the lead copywriter for three educational toy websites:,, and