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Your UCP: National October 13, 2003
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10 Considerations When Buying Toys for Children With Disabilities

The National Lekotek Center is a non-profit organization with a national network of 43 affiliates dedicated to making play and learning accessible for children with disabilities and provides supportive services for their families. For additional information on toys, play and technology for children with disabilities, please call the Lekotek Toy Resource Helpline at 1-800-366-PLAY, or send an e-mail or visit the Lekotek Web site.

Holiday time is exciting for all children, and children with disabilities are no different. There are nearly 6 million children with disabilities (including 12.7% of school children) who will receive holiday gifts this season. Yet because gift givers are afraid of selecting the "wrong" toy, many children with disabilities find pajamas and socks wrapped up in those brightly-colored boxes. Not the toy of their dreams.

The National Lekotek Center recommends the following Top Ten Things to Consider When Buying Toys for Children with Disabilities:

  1. Multisensory appeal: Does the toy respond with lights, sounds, or movement? Are there contrasting colors? Does it have a scent? Is there texture?

  2. Method of activation: Will the toy provide a challenge without frustration? What is the force required to activate? What are the number and complexity of steps required to activate?

  3. Where toy will be used: Can the toy be used in a variety of positions such as side-lying or on wheelchair tray? Will the toy be easy to store? Is there space in the home?

  4. Opportunities for success: Can play be open-ended with no definite right or wrong way? Is it adaptable to the child's individual style, ability and pace?

  5. Current popularity: Is it a toy most any child would like? Does it tie-in with other activities like T.V., movies, books, clothing, etc?

  6. Self-expression: Does the toy allow for creativity, uniqueness, and choice-making? Will it give the child experience with a variety of media?

  7. Adjustability: Does it have adjustable height, sound volume, speed, level of difficulty?

  8. Child's individual characteristics: Does the toy provide activities that reflect both developmental and chronological ages? Does it reflect the child's interests and age?

  9. Safety and durability: Consider the child's size and strength in relation to the toy's durability. Is the toy and its parts sized appropriately? Does the toy have moisture resistance? Can it be washed and cleaned?

  10. Potential for interaction: Will the child be an active participant during use? Will the toy encourage social engagement with others?

"With thousands of toys on the market, it is hard for parents to know which types of toys are good matches for their children," says Beth Boosalis Davis, Executive Director of the National Lekotek Center. "We have received thousands of requests from parents asking us to help them identify those toys that will bring success rather than a sense of frustration to their children. This Top Ten List should give parents and their family members more confidence when they go to the stores to make their toy purchases."

The National Lekotek Center leads the way for accessible play for children with disabilities and their families through a nationwide non-profit network of 62 play centers, toy lending libraries and computer play programs. For more information, call the Lekotek Toy Resource Helpline: 800-366-PLAY.

CONTACT: Diana Nielander of National Lekotek Center, 847-328-0001
EVANSTON, Ill., Dec. 4, 1997

Source: FCTD

Additional resources for finding adaptive toys:

Let’s Play! Projects
This Web site features information about assistive technology, adaptive toys, play, and vendors.

Disability Resources Monthly Guide
This site offers resources to find toys for children with disabilities.

Alliance for Technology Access
A Web site providing ideas, articles, and links for information on play and children with special needs.

Laureate Learning
Founded in 1982 by two speech pathologists, Laureate Learning Systems publishes software for both children and adults with learning disabilities.

Exceptional Parent Toy Recommendations
Includes recommendations for both the best new toys and toys produced in the past three years by a panel of certified toy testers.

Dr. Toy, Stevanne Auerbach, Ph.D., has developed a comprehensive year-round Web site of information on award winning topics. It also includes an excellent 2002 Holiday Gift Guide.

The Dragonfly Toy Company
The Dragonfly Toy Company
291 Yale Avenue
Winnipeg, MB, Canada
R3M 0L4
(800) 308-2208
PLAY pen has tremendous resources for shoppers including various articles on special needs children with information on recreational and educational play.

Toy Directory.com
ToyDirectory.com® Inc.
12249 Santa Monica Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90025
Tel: (310) 979-4330
Fax: (310) 979-4350
This site includes an online newsletter with short articles providing toy-related accommodations. This Web site enables the shopper to access toys by category, manufacturer or retailer.

Center for Creative Play
(412) 371-1668
This site contains a variety of tips for adapting or creating toys for children with disabilities, or making the play environment more accommodating.

Flaghouse Special Populations
150 No. MacQuestern Parkway
Mt. Vernon, NY 14222
(800) 793-7900
The catalog contains an extensive selection of adaptive toys and therapy products.

Oppenheim Toy Portfolio
40 E. 9th Street, Suite 14M
New York, NY 10003
(800) 544-8697
E-mail: Stephanie@toyportfolio.com
A reviewing organization with a full chapter in their book, The Best Toys, Books, Videos & Software for Kids, dedicated to choosing and using "ordinary toys for kids with special needs".

portime Abilitations
One Sportime Way
Atlanta, GA 30340
(800) 850-8602
Fax: (800) 845-1535
E-mail: imd@sportime.com
Sportime currently distributes two catalogs for movement, physical education and special populations professionals.

Toy Manufacturers of America
200 Fifth Avenue, Suite 740
New York, NY 10010
(212) 675-1141
This organization has a toy resource catalog: Guide to Toys for Children Who are Blind or Visually Impaired.

Toys "R" Us
Guide for Differently-Abled Kids
P.O. Box 8501
Nevada, IA 50201
Endorsed by the National Parent Network on Disabilities and designed to be used in the Toys "R" Us stores in choosing appropriate toys for the child with special needs.

Worldwide Games
P.O. Box 517
Colchester, CT 06415-0517
(800) 243-9232
This catalog contains specially designed and adapted board games and activities for recreation and therapy.

Bryn Mar Associates, Inc.
128 Buckingham Road
Yonkers, NY 10701
Voice/Fax: (914) 963-7935
E-mail: sales@brynmar.com

Leap Frog
1250 45th Street, Suite 150
Emeryville, CA 94608
(510) 420-5000

Toys for Special Children & Enabling Devices
385 Warburton Avenue
Hastings-on-Hudson, NY 10706
(914) 478-0960
(800) 832-8697
Fax: (914) 478-7030
E-mail: info@enablingdevices.com

Funtastic Learning
206 Woodland Road
Hampton, NH 03842
(603) 926-0071
(800) 722-737
Fax: (603) 926-5905
E-mail: jay@funtasticlearning.com

Tools for Life
Tools For Life Demonstration Center
College Of Health And Professional Studies
Georgia Southern University
P.O. Box 8098
Statesboro, GA 30460-8098
(912) 681-5961
TDD: (912) 681-0136
Fax: (912) 871-1787
E-mail: tools@gsaix2.cc.gasou.edu

Lakeshore Learning Materials
2695 East Dominquez Street
Carson, CA 90810
(800) 421-5354

TFH (Toys for the Handicapped)
4537 Gibsonia Road
Gibsonia, PA 15044
(800) 467-6222

Come Play With Me
Developmental Toys for Infants and Children
(888) 798-2855
Fax: (415) 673-2125
E-mail: info@comeplaytoys.com

Touch Heal Feel
4537 Gibsonia Road
Gibsonia, PA 15044
(800) 467-6222
Fax :(724) 444-6411
Email: tfh@tfhusa.com

Crestwood Company
6625 N. Sidney Place
Milwaukee, WI 53209
(414) 352-5678
Fax: (414) 352-5679
E-mail: crestcomm@aol.com

Innovative Products, Inc.
830 South 48th Street
Grand Forks, ND 58201
(800) 950-5185

1081 Tenth Ave
SE Minneapolis, MN 55414
(800) 322-0956

Toys for Special Children
385 Warburton Avenue
Hastings-on-Hudson, NY 17060
(800) 832-8697

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