While there are enough kids games out there that you could never go through them all, games for special needs children are often harder to find. There isn’t the same variety of games designed specifically for children with special needs, and many of the games that are can be very expensive.
However, many children with special needs can benefit from playing with regular off-the-shelf toys – if they’re playing with the right ones. Below, you’ll find a list of some of the best games for special needs children that you can purchase through most toy stores or online retailers.
Toys With Large Parts
Many children with cerebral palsy or other conditions that make controlled movement difficult can benefit from playing with toys with large parts instead of smaller ones. That’s because children with motor skills impairment can easily pick up the toys, move them around, and play with them even with limited motor control.
Example: Lego Duplo Basic Bricks. Lego Duplo Basic Bricks are a simple set of Lego building blocks, but instead of the normal, very small pieces that can be difficult for children with motor skills issues to play with, the Duplo Basic Bricks set is comprised of much larger pieces – some a few inches in diameter.
With the Duplo Basic Bricks set, you can help your child make basic patterns or construct toy people, or just let them build free-form shapes on their own. Many children with motor skills issues enjoy large building blocks, and they may be able to help children develop spatial recognition skills.
Large Pop-Up Books
If you’ve ever been in a toy store, you’ve probably seen those huge pop-up books that take up half of a store shelf. These are ideal for many kids that can’t turn the pages of smaller books, as they allow a child the joy of reading and experiencing a story on their own.
Like building blocks, pop-up books can help some children build spatial recognition skills, as the pop-up part of the book can often be helpful in teaching children about height, depth, and three-dimensional objects.
Cause and Effect Toys
For children with autism, cause and effect toys – the type where a sound is made when a button is pushed for example – are the most beneficial. These types of toys promote interaction and can help autistic children to respond physical and verbal stimulation in an effective way.
Example: V-Tech Tote & Go Laptop. The V-Tech Tote & Go Laptop is a toy that looks like a brightly-colored scaled down version of a regular laptop. What the toy does, however, is teach kids about letters and words through fun games and interaction.
To use the laptop, children can either respond verbally or press a button on the toy’s keyboard in response.
The iPad is a technological innovation that has been used in a multitude of ways for children with special needs, because it’s interactive and easy for many children to handle. While there are too many games and apps to cover here, there are a few that have become particularly popular among parents with special needs children.
Example: ArtikPix. ArtikPix is a simple app for the iPad that uses matching activities and flashcards in a fun way to help children with speech-sound delays, which can affect children with a variety of different conditions. Best of all, ArtikPix is fun enough that kids will want to play by themselves, though it can be used by speech pathologists and parents as well.
Example: Abilipad. Abilipad is an iPad app that basically turns the screen into a writing and drawing surface for kids that may otherwise have difficulty communicating via written words. The Abilipad app also has word-prediction features and a text-to-speech function, helping kids understand how the words they speak can be translated into written text.
Children with special needs don’t always need special treatment when it comes to toys. While many of the toys listed above are somewhat educational, they’re also a lot of fun for most kids.
If a toy isn’t fun, a child isn’t going to want to play with it – which gives it no educational value at all. Make sure you test out any toys to see if your kids like them, before trying to make them part of your child’s regular play routine.