Adaptive Toys for Cerebral Palsy

Child Development, Tips for Parents

toddler girl opening toy box to reach huge green play button with pile of adaptive toys in foreground

Selecting toys for children that have cerebral palsy can present a challenge for some parents, friends, and caregivers. It’s important to choose toys that are easy for children with CP to use so that they can have fun safely, regardless of their difference in abilities. Rest assured that there are many options available.

Switch-Adapted Toys

Electronic toys are often activated with switches or buttons that the child touches to make the device move, sing, or light up. You can turn a wide variety of standard toys into well-adapted cerebral palsy toys by connecting them to a different switch. Some toys are easily switch adapted using an external switch jack. Look for this jack on the back of electronic toys, such as talking plush animals. You can also create a switch-adapted toy yourself by rewiring the ordinary toy to connect to your chosen switch.

It’s good to present children and toddlers with challenges as they develop while keeping these within the scope of their abilities, so select a switch based on the needs and capabilities of your child. Some options include:

  • Large pressure-activated buttons
  • Proximity switches activated by motion
  • Bite switches activated with jaw pressure
  • Chin switches activated by head motion
  • Tongue switches activated inside the mouth
  • Foot pedals used with the feet

Investing in one or two of these innovative switches can give you the ability to adapt a variety of electronic toys for your child with cerebral palsy to use more easily. Rather than choosing toys for children with CP, this lets you use toys you may already have access to in new and engaging ways.

Puzzles With Large Pieces

Puzzles are a great toy for childhood development because they help children improve:

  • Memory
  • Visual-spatial reasoning
  • Problem-solving
  • Attention to detail
  • Hand-eye coordination
  • Concentration

As with any type of cerebral palsy toy, it’s best to consider your child’s own unique abilities, strengths, and weaknesses. Look for a puzzle that will present a challenge while still allowing your child to work within his or her abilities. Depending on the theme of the puzzle, it may also help promote shape recognition or educate the child on a specific topic.

Puzzles with small pieces can be difficult for a child with cerebral palsy, but one with large pieces or knobs is more easily manipulated. Selecting an adaptive puzzle with a theme that the child enjoys will make this type of toy even more engaging.

Tactile Toys

Tactile cerebral palsy toys encourage children to work with their hands. This can help them develop fine motor skills and may support some of the work being done in physical or occupational therapy. Toddlers love to reach out and touch things, but a child with cerebral palsy may have fewer opportunities for this due to mobility limitations and other challenges. Make the effort to provide sensory experiences using toys such as:

  • Squishy balls
  • Cloud dough
  • Slime
  • Sensory boards with knobs, buttons, etc.
  • Water wigglies

Large Blocks

Blocks are a classic choice for playtime that’s easily adapted to children with cerebral palsy. The primary consideration here is size and maneuverability. Look for blocks that are large enough for your child to easily hold, place, and stack. Something as small as a traditional LEGO may be too difficult to build with, while larger blocks provide ample opportunities to practice building.

Experiment with different materials as well so you can select blocks with the proper weight for your child’s needs. If the blocks are solid wood, they may be too heavy for your child to control and build as they’d like. Hollow plastic or lightweight foam blocks could provide the ideal solution.

Stimulus-Reward Toys

Stimulus-reward toys encourage interaction by providing an appealing reward for the child when he or she activates the toy properly. It’s important for children to receive stimulation when they’re playing, as this is what encourages sustained engagement. If the toy doesn’t provide any kind of stimulation, the child may lose interest.

For a child with cerebral palsy, auditory stimulation is often ideal. This way, the child can enjoy the reward of the toy even if they can’t always manipulate their head or neck to keep it in view. Depending on the needs and capabilities of your child, a toy with visual stimulation, such as flashing lights, may work as well. Consider the payoff for using a particular toy when you’re selecting products for your child to ensure that you’re choosing things that can remain engaging.

The costs of caring for a child with cerebral palsy include not only special toys like these but also other therapies, tools, and supplies as well. If you believe your loved one’s cerebral palsy is the result of medical malpractice, the Cerebral Palsy Family Lawyers at Janet, Janet & Suggs, LLC may be able to help you with a legal case for compensation. Contact us today to begin exploring your case.

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