Parents and therapists recognize the importance of play in children. Through play children develop physically, socially, emotionally and cognitively. Children with disabilities may have limited access to play due to motor skill delays or other issues. Through guided play sessions, parents and therapists can help children to maximize their play skills. One of the most important steps in encouraging play is choosing the proper items to play with. There are many items from around the house that can facilitate play in addition to store bought toys. Here are several questions to answer to determine if a toy is appropriate for a specific child.
1. Is the child interested in the toy? The child must be motivated to actually use the toy.
2. Can the child physically use the toy (adapted if necessary)? If the child can not independently or with minimal assistance use the toy the child may not be motivated to explore the toy.
3. Is the toy appropriate for the child's cognitive level?
4. Is the play space at home or school appropriate for the toy?
5. Does the toy encourage social, speech, sensory or emotional development? Not every toy needs to accomplish this goal but it would be an added benefit.
Toys 'R Us produces a guide every year entitled Toys"R"Us Toy Guide for Differently-Abled Kids. To get more information on the guide visit the Toys 'R Us website.