7 Gift Giving Considerations for Purchasing Toys for Children with Disabilities


1. Know the Child’s Interests Think about the child’s developmental age, chronological age, talents, and interests. Does the toy foster and build on those interests and skills? While the child may be interested in the toy at home, ask yourself if the child would feel comfortable using the toy in public. Children want to fit in with their peers and/or classmates.

2. Appeal to the Senses Some toys can be over-stimulating, yet others may lack the sensory needs for a child. Individualize toys by considering the texture and smell. Consider the color contrasts and if the toy lights up when engaged. Will the movement and level of sounds be appealing?

3. Foster IndependenceThink about toys that will need little or no assistance at all from another individual for the child to engage. Purchasing switch adaptive toys or modifying toys to switch adaptive yourself is an excellent way to make that happen.

4. Explore the Activation Method Toys can create frustration when the activation is challenging and complex. To alleviate frustration, know how many steps and/or the level of pressure your child will need to activate the toy.

5. Ask Yourself – Can the Child Create a Gift for Someone with the Toy? Being able to make and give a special gift provides the child with a sense of pride and accomplishment. Plus, seeing the gift used year after year confirms those positive feelings. For instance, stringing beads to give to family members as garlands for the house.

6. Consider How the Toy will be Used Make sure the toy can be used in multiple ways based on the needs of the child. Think about positioning and the space needed when the toy is activated. Could the toy be mounted to a wheelchair if necessary?

7. Test Durability Toys should be easily washed and sanitized. Check to see if the toy is resistant to moisture. Consider whether it is appropriate for the size and strength of the child. There should be little or no risk of toy parts being easily broken into small pieces.If you would like assistance with purchasing accessible toys or no-cost training on how to make your own, please contact PATINS.