Children with special needs basically have the same desire to play with normal children. Toys can also be used as a learning tool in developing abilities in children with special needs. It’s just that you have to be careful in choosing toys according to the conditions of each child.
The definition of children with special needs are children who have certain medical, emotional or learning conditions, who may need therapy, medication, or special assistance. For example, children who suffer from epilepsy, diabetes, cerebral palsy, or children who need a wheelchair to move. In addition, children with vision, hearing, or speech disorders, as well as children with Down syndrome are also children with special needs.
Important Things When Choosing Toys in Children with Special Needs
Some children with special needs have difficulty even doing daily activities that are considered easy for normal children. For example, communication difficulties, disturbances in motor skills, or social skills.
However, like children in general, children with special needs also like to play and can use toys to develop their abilities. Children with special needs should also get toys that are age-appropriate as well as being able to stimulate social, mental, physical, and emotional development.
Here are some things that can be applied when choosing toys for children with special needs:
Adjust to age
Prepare as needed
Limit electronic toys
Infants up to one year old children, it is recommended to be given toys that help explore with the five senses. For example, toys that make children bite, reach, drop objects, make sounds, or be colorful. Then in the next age, ie 1-3 years, you can give a game that stimulates fine motor skills, thinking power, and strengthens muscles, for example blocks of various shapes and simple puzzles. After children aged 3-5 years, you can also add a type of game that sharpens the imagination.
There are several conditions of children with special needs that need attention, for example Down syndrome children who experience impairments in fine motor skills, so that puzzles can be a tough challenge for them. While autistic children who have difficulty focusing, need toys that involve interaction, such as pressing the button to hear a sound or see certain movements. Toys with regular static motion, such as a spinning wheel, are one of the types of toys that are interesting for children with autism. Large toys are very appropriate for children with cerebral palsy, because they often experience unexpected seizure movements. And for children with motor system disorders, give toys that can be used in a limited position, such as sitting in a wheelchair.
It is difficult to limit today’s children from a variety of electronic devices that are considered as toys and learning tools. In fact, there are risks to health and the risk of developmental disorders from these tools, including being overweight, and being late in mastering language or other developmental disorders. A study revealed that electronic devices can interfere with the ability to think independently, because children accept passive learning styles. For children under 2 years, it is recommended not to be left watching television or playing with gadgets at all. Whereas children over 2 years may only watch television or play games on gadgets for 1-2 hours per day.
Besides disrupting the ability to think independently, electronic toys can also affect children’s attention span. For example, toys with light, lights, or have a lot of movement do not require a long concentration. This can cause children to be difficult to focus on toys that do not move, such as books.
Toys should let children develop imagination, without too many limiting functions. This will stimulate children to think creatively and spontaneously. For children with special needs, in addition to choosing toys according to age, also choose toys that fit the child’s condition.