Accessible toys, play and learning
Safe and suitable toys for children with physical or learning disabilities.
Toys for children with physical or learning disabilities need to be safe and suitable for their needs.
For example, if your child is likely to put the toy in their mouth, make sure it doesn't have any small parts that they could swallow.
Be careful not to leave button batteries around. They can be harmful if a child swallows them.
The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents has advice on toy safety.
Choosing suitable toys
There are many specialist toys designed for children with different disabilities, including children with sight, hearing and mobility issues.
You may be able to get advice on choosing toys from a professional who works with your child, such as a paediatric occupational therapist. Your GP or local authority can help you contact a local paediatric occupational therapist.
Other parents and informal support groups can be a good source of recommendations as they may have direct experience of using the toys.
You may also find that some disability organisations either sell recommended toys and games through their websites or provide links to recommended specialist toy companies.
How to cut the costs of specialist toys
Specialist toys can be expensive, but you can cut costs by borrowing them. This is also a good way to ensure a toy is suitable for your child before buying it. Some areas have a local toy library, and this may have play equipment that you can borrow, sometimes for a small fee.
You can also reduce the cost by making your own toys or by using household objects. For example, you can make your own bubble-blowing liquid using baby shampoo.
If your child has very particular needs and you can't find anything suitable, the charity Remap may be able to help. Remap has volunteers who can design and produce tailor-made items for people with disabilities.
Organisations that can help
- Scope has advice on playing with children who have disabilities
- Sense has a set of play toolkits for parents of children with complex needs
- Living Made Easy for Children has a range of suggestions for toys, games and equipment for sensory stimulation
- RNIB has advice on how blind or partially sighted children can get the most out of books and reading
- the National Portage Association offers home-visiting services for families of children with additional needs, and can help with play and learning
- you may be able to get help for disabled children from your local authority