Black Friday has passed, wish lists have been made, and its crunch time to find that perfect gift for the little bundle of joy in your life. However, the child you are buying for is handicapped, and finding the perfect toy for him or her has gotten the best of you year after year. Make this holiday different by finding just the right toy that caters to his or her special needs or disability.
What Disables a Child’s Playtime?
According to Child Care Exchange Magazine‘s 2009 April/March issue, toys were the number one gift given to children during 2009’s holiday season. According to the U.S. Census Bureau about 5 million of America’s children in 2009 were handicapped or disabled. Any disability, either mental or physical, can restrict a child in multiple ways and can hinder their ability to play.
If you are buying for someone with any of the following challenges, consider choosing a toy that will help them overcome their disability:
- Mental limitations
- Limited cognitive coordination
- Inability to walk, see, hear, or speak
- Inability to use hands or feet
- Limited strength
Where to Shop and What to Buy
By following Toys R Us’s Toy Guide for Differently-Abled Children, one can be steered in the right direction to find an appropriate gift for the handicapped child they are buying for. The guide breaks toys up into ten categories to help you decide what type of toy will benefit your handicapped child most:
- Auditory– Try the Funny Phone Early Listening Game for $34.99 by Learning Resources
- Creativity– Try the Crayola Presto Dots for $9.99
- Fine motor skills– Try the Playskool Busy Balls- Terrific Textures for $5.99
- Gross motor skills– Try the Little Tikes Supermarket Shopping Cart for $27.99
- Language– Try the Fischer-Price Laugh & Learn Home Learning Phone for $15.99
- Self esteem– Try the PlaSmart Perplexus Maze Game for $19.99
- Social skills– Try the Guess Who? Electronic Extra by Hasbro for $24.99
- Tactile– Vtech Spin ‘n Learn Top for $14.99
- Thinking– Try the LeapFrog TAG Junior Book Pal Reading System for $4.99
- Visual– Try the Backyard Safari Mega Megnifier by Summit Toys for $4.99
Watch Toys R Us’s Toy Guide for Differently-Abled Children for further explanation and advice.
Go to your nearest Chicagoland Toys R Us and grab some of these great gifts today!
Advice from an Expert
Wendy Elmendorf, a physical and occupational therapist, works with children ages one to eighteen and specializes in speech therapy. She says, “I work with disabled children everyday who have very different physical and mental challenges. The best way to get them actively engaged in improving their skills and overcoming their disability is to let them play.”
When asked to give a tip on gift buying for handicapped children she explained, “It totally depends upon the child’s abilities and disabilities. If the child has poor motor skills and has trouble picking things up or controlling their hands, you should find a toy with very large and easy-to-grip pieces.” She continued, “If the child has a speech impairment, find a toy that makes lots of sounds that the child can mimic.”
Play, Play, Play
Erin Holmes, a camp counselor of a summer camp for disabled children says, “When you work at a summer camp for disabled children you have to think of inventive ways to allow them to play that will be fun but at the same time challenge them to defy their disabilities.”
Erin works with children ages six to thirteen and has found specific types of toys and games that work better for certain ages and disabilities. “ I can positively challenge kids with physical disabilities by having them play with toys and game that encourage movement like remote control cars or a toy that requires the child to retrieve it.” She continued, “For kids with mental disabilities, I like to have them do lots of arts and crafts that stimulate their brain and thinking skills.”
For more gift ideas and further explanation of the toys found in Toys R US’s Toy Guide for Differently-Abled Children watch Karen Myer of ABC 7 Chicago report on the subject.
Photo Credit: Joan Hodges and Kate Reynolds, Creative Commons