Special Needs Toy Guide

Parents of children with autism or other special needs are often concerned about what toys may be appropriate for their kids. Since the diagnoses are so wide-ranging and needs are different, finding toys that can assist with therapy goals — and be fun — is challenge. Of course, you should consult with therapists and medical professionals to find the appropriate toys to use with your children, but this guide is intended to give you some ideas.

I am not a medical professional, but as any parent with a special needs child knows, the parents are actively involved in the therapy and are naturally often the closest to the process every day. These recommendations are party based on my experience and the experience of speaking with other parents of special needs kids and their experiences. One of the wonders of the online world is that it has made parents helping parents so much easier as they deal with the challenges of special needs kids. A generation ago, so much less was understood about these conditions, and there weren’t the resources and support systems we enjoy today.

My son has a list of conditions: Autism, PDD-NOS (Pervasive Developmental Disorder, Not Otherwise Specified), Dyspraxia, Speech Apraxia, Hypotonia, Motor Planning Disorder just to name a few. He’s been in various therapies since he was 14-months-old.

Through these therapies over the past two years, I’ve found that you don’t always have to purchase the expensive equipment, specialized toys or fancy (and pricey) augmentative talking devices. There are many toys on shelves these days that you can use for a fraction of the cost. Regardless of the level of needs your child may need, this list of toys will help your child master the skills he or she need to be successful. This comprehensive list of toys covers special needs from gross motor skills to sensory and everything in between.

We will be regularly adding to this selection, and we also want to hear from you—let us know what your experience is, and especially what toys have worked for you.