Many toys are designed to challenge a child’s motor skills. They are meant to be held, assembled, pushed and prodded, as well as twisted this way and that. While this feature makes the toy a healthy challenge for the typical child, it might make playtime frustrating for a child with cerebral palsy.

Some parents find buying toys for children with disabilities awkward. They fear that they might pick toys that are inappropriate, frustrating and even dangerous for their kids.

The anxiety is understandable. But if you keep in mind that at the very root, toys are meant to be educational, entertaining and even therapeutic, picking toys for children with disabilities shouldn’t be that difficult. Pick toys that would play to your child’s potentials and strengths. You may even select toys geared at creating skills that your child can use in a future career!

Here are some tips to consider when buying toys for children in wheelchairs:

Consider toys that can be played on a desk.

Most wheelchairs can be adjusted to accommodate tables. Toys that can be played on a desk then, and does not require a child to change posture and positions, are always appropriate. This includes puzzles, building blocks, modeling clays, dollhouses and train sets. In this sense, adapting a toy for use of a child in a wheelchair may be as simple as transferring a toy from the floor to a table so that the child won’t have to bend down to play.

Think art.

Art materials are also great toys for children in wheelchair. They can stimulate their visual and tactile intelligence, which can be comforting and emotionally therapeutic for them. So coloring pens, sketch pads, origami patterns and other craft projects are also great ideas. Who knows, you might be developing the next Michaelangelo right in your living room!

Dolls in wheelchairs!

Playing with dolls and action figures are believed to be therapeutic for a child. They are toys a child can identify with, and toys that can act out their feelings. Many specialty shops today offer dolls and action figures in wheelchairs, crutches or prosthetics to help facilitate a child’s adjustment. There are even accessories to go with these figures, such as school buses with ramps, ‘physical therapy’ room accessories and one-storey doll houses.

Go techie.

Electronics are also good choices for children with wheelchairs. Handheld games are something they can play almost anywhere. Videogames and PC programs can stimulate their imagination and competitive play. In our age of technology, we even have sophisticated games that can help simulate games like tennis that children in wheelchairs couldn’t normally play.

Think interactive.

Most mobile sports today have versions adapted for children with disabilities. Basketball is one of these. If a child has company who can assist in fetching the ball should it ever fall out of reach, or is part of a community sports program for children with disabilities, then a basketball as a toy can be something that they would appreciate. It would even build their upper body strength. Board games like chess and monopoly are also good ideas. It’s an interactive game that does not require them to move, and can be played with peers who are not in wheelchairs. If we can develop a child’s social skills with the kind of toys that we buy them, then we can help them better adjust to life.