Special Toys for Special Kids

by Lisa Simmons

Every parent wants to give their child that one special toy that they
REALLY want. However, when your child has special needs it can be hard for the child to tell you which toy would truly make their heart sing. So just for parents, each year I create a new gift guide to help them find that perfect toy to delight their child during the holiday season. I don’t always choose a theme, but this year I saw so many great ideas that I decided to focus on creativity and movement. I hope these ideas are helpful
and bring you and your child many hours of enjoyment.

Games & Motor Toys:

1. The Nobbie Gertie Ball by Small World Toys
Kids will love to touch this tactile ball that’s easy to throw, catch and
kick. Its lightweight material makes it ideal for indoor play plus it
introduces textures and encourages active play.

Available online at Makin-Music.com:
http://www.makin-music.com/detail.asp?PRODUCT_ID=BA003

2. The Floor Basketball Game by Dragonfly Toys is portable and designed
for people who play while sitting. It’s made of heavy wall PVC pipe to
ensure durability and comes with an easy grip ball in a bright, engaging
color.

Available online at S&S Worldwide:
http://www.ssww.com/shop/prod_details.cfm/item_number=GA2032

3. The Fun Hop by Hedstrom.
I have to admit this is a personal favorite at our house. My youngest
daughter fell in love with this toy a few years ago and has literally spent
hours on it. It has an easy grip, built-in handle and can hold a child up
to 100 pounds. My favorite feature is that your child can use it indoors
(on the carpet) while they are developing their balance and control and then
take it outdoors when the weather is warmer. Plus it is an EXCELLENT way to
burn off excess energy!

Available online at Amazon.com

4. Tangle Texture Original by Tangle Toys
This tactile toy features five different textures for fingers to explore
while manipulating the never ending tangle puzzle. Textures include tire
treads, bumps, ridges, dots and smooth sections. This toy encourages
creative exploration with stimulating textures for kids with sensory
impairments and is perfect for keeping active hands occupied if your child
has an attention deficit disorder.

Available online from Tangle Toys
http://www.tangletoys.com/toys/toy.php?id+28&catid=4&sid=rkA1UHj3dc

Imaginary Play:

5. If your child’s creativity leans more toward imaginary play, then he
or she will love the Animal Planet Jumbo Play set. It comes with a
realistic mat to help “set the tone” and a wonderful set of 14 dinosaurs
that are easy to grasp and encourage interactive play with other kids. If
dinosaurs aren’t “in” at your house Animal Planet also offers sets of sea
life, bugs, farm animals, wildlife, horses, and reptiles!

Available online from Amazon.com

6. Special Dolls from Beyond Play
Every little girl needs a doll to pretend with that looks just like her.
It’s part of how we develop our own self-image. If you’ve had difficulty
finding dolls that are even close, here is an option. Although this line of
dolls doesn’t offer a large variety, they are created to be used with
special equipment that may offer the personalized touch you’re after. Each
doll can be equipped with a seeing eye dog, forearm crutches, a walker, a
wheelchair, or dark glasses and a white cane.

Available online from Beyond Play.com
http://www.beyondplay.com/CATALOG/DRA1.HTM

Creative Expression:

7. The Mozart Magic Cube by Munchkin
This colorful block lets your child add and subtract 5 different
instruments with a simple touch as they listen to classic Mozart tunes. If
your child enjoys music this is a great way to develop their understanding
of cause and effect and the music of Mozart is believed by some experts to
actually stimulate the brain.

Available online at Amazon.com

8. If your young musician wants to take a more “hands on” approach, then
this may be the perfect holiday for Piano is Easy. Piano is Easy is a
simple system of number stickers that you place on your piano or keyboard
and a book of number coded music. It works with children who have
developmental disabilities, attention deficit disorders, autism, Tourette
syndrome, Down syndrome, and more.

TIP: Tuning your child into music can also have an added benefit! If
your child can remember the words to their favorite song then it is very
likely that you can set academic facts and information to simple tunes and
help your child memorize them much more quickly and easily!

Piano is Easy is available online from Walden Pond Press.
http://www.pianoiseasy.com/showpage.cfm?page=ideallives1

9. Looking for a more open ended way to encourage creativity? How about
pairing basic art supplies with some great art ideas.

You can find all kinds of fun art ideas here to print off and include:
http://www.edbydesign.com/specneedsres/specialart/index.html

Then just fill your gift box with all the goodies any young artist could
want. You can build a personalized collection of jumbo chalk, Texta pens,
pencils, clay, and no spill paint pots at most craft stores or opt for one
of the many young artist gift sets available.

The Amazing Art Duffle is available online at Amazon.com

10. Trying to draw out an older child? A preteen or teenager with special
needs has lots on their mind just like any other child their age. If the
young person in your life needs a safe place to express him or herself,
consider this terrific creative writing journal. “Creative Writing for
Individuals With Disabilities” is designed like a workbook and offers “idea
starters” to help your child move beyond the dreaded blank page. If you are
facing the transition from school to adulthood within the next few years
it’s really important for you to understand what your child’s dreams and
values are. This is a perfect way to begin that process.

Creative Writing for Individuals With Disabilities is available online
from Ideal Lives at:
http://www.ideallives.com/v01/creative_writing.html

I hope these ideas have sparked your creative juices. May your holiday
season be a safe and happy one!

Copyright 2003, Lisa Simmons. All Rights Reserved
Connecting Advocates to Answers at http://www.ideallives.com

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