Play is a natural occurrence and is the catalyst for a child’s development in several ways. Toys are commonly used during play; however, children with a physical disability and/or mental disability may be unable to successfully interact with many toys as they are. Thereby lagging their development potential.
That is where adapted toys come in. Adapted toys are modified toys that meet a particular need of a child in order to foster successful play interactions. Adaptations can be external such as using velcro to make the toy more stable as the child plays with it or grip modifications to make it easier to grasp smaller objects. Internal modifications can be made as well such as with switches or battery interrupters making interactions with electronic toys easier.
Adaptations can be DIY with easily obtainable materials, several tutorials on various DIY adaptations/modifications can be found online for example here or adapted toys can be bought outright from various retailers including Amazon or dedicated sites like Adaptive Tech Solutions.
Why use adapted toys then? Adapted toys can promote:
● Various skills such as active range of motion, grasping, eye hand coordination, and visual skills
● Self-Confidence - When a child is able to control their own environment it can be very rewarding for a child. They can learn cause and effect, initiation and promote exploration and curiosity.
● Social Interaction - Providing a child the ability to play with adapted toys promotes peer-to-peer interactions playing with other children and can create a sense of belonging.
Hsieh, H.-C. (2008). Effects of ordinary and adaptive toys on pre-school children with developmental disabilities. Research in Developmental Disabilities, 29(5), 459–466. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ridd.2007.08.004
Murphy, L. (2020). Switch Adapted Toys 101: Everything You Need to Know. NAPA. https://napacenter.org/benefits-of-switch-adapted-toys/