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National Lekotek Center's Top 10 Things to Consider When Buying Toys for Children With Disabilities



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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

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