Special Needs Toys

Wednesday, December 8, 2010 - 4:04pm

Sights and sounds of holiday toys can cause problems for some children.

The sights and sounds of the holidays are magical to many kids, but can be downright overwhelming and even scary for some.

Some children with developmental problems, even Autism or Down Syndrome, could be repelled by the wrong toy.

"Toys that have a lot of different types of stimuli may be little much for kids with autism," explains Suzanne Bonifert.

Bonifert works with autistic children and other kids with special needs at the University Of Texas at Dallas.

She says her little patients often have trouble with fine motor skills.

"Rather than a puzzle with small teeny tiny pieces, get a puzzle that has bigger pieces and pegs so that child can manipulate that puzzle a little bit easier," she says.

They can also be over-stimulated with toys that have a lot of electronic lights and sounds.

Bonifert recommends toys like Play-Doh or Mr. Potato Head.

Experts also say to look for games where there is no winner or loser, just an opportunity to have fun.

Toys-R-Us offers help with its annual "Guide For Differently-Abled Kids."

"A lot of what we focus on within the Toys R Us toy guide for differently-abled kids are toys that will provide self-esteem for a child," says toy expert Adrienne Giordano.

They aren't toys specially made for kids with special needs...the guide simply shows which toys might help with things like motor or social skills.

"It makes it really easy to use for any parent or gift giver who's using this resource as they shop around the store," Giordano says.

By taking into account their needs, children may be more likely to get what they want.

Experts also recommend dolls and things that encourage interactive and dramatic play.

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