FROM THE TOY SIDE
By Sue Rosen, M.S.
is an integral part of children's development, enabling them to
purposefully interact with their environment. Toys are tools for
socialization. Because of limited motor ability, many children with
disabilities are passive observers and are unable to independently
play with toys. Their attempts to play can turn a potentially pleasurable
activity into a frustrating experience. But, thanks to modern technology,
many toys can be adapted so that children with disabilities can
battery toys can be adapted for use with interchangeable switches
that can be activated with any part of the body that has purposeful
movement. This can be done, in most cases, with a simple to make
battery interrupter. Small handles and knobs on toys such as Magna
Doodle can be extended with PVC tubes, hollow dowels or rubber tubing
(the kind used for making fishing rod handles). Velcro is of course
invaluable. Other types of toys that can be easily accessed are
those that are sound or motion activated. This type of toy encourages
sound production and purposeful movement. However, using a battery
interrupter or handle extenders, many of the popular toys found
in local toy stores or some that will be available through KidNeeds.com
can be adapted and enjoyed by children and their siblings or peers.
examples of fun toys are:
Ducks - This can be adapted with a battery interrupter so that a
child can turn the quacking ducks on while his partner picks up
ducks. If a child wants to pick up ducks, a small piece of sticky
backed Velcro placed on each duck's head and on the child's hand
will help with this task.
- When adapted with a battery interrupter, a touch of the switch
has butterflies coming from elephant's trunk (my suggestion is to
shorten the elephant's trunk by cutting, and use feathers instead
Signs - This inexpensive toy needs no adapting. There are several
different subjects. I chose "I like to eat." When a child places
an apple, ice cream, etc. magnet on the sign, it speaks "I like
to eat…apple" …accompanied by music. Although help may be needed,
this toy encourages choice making in a fun way.
schools and organizations have established toy lending libraries.
Included in these libraries are a variety of toys that have been
adapted for use with switches. These libraries may also include
developmental and educational toys, environmental control devices,
adapted sports equipment, instructional VCR tapes and books appropriate
for families (including special books for siblings). Rules for borrowing
are made at the discretion of each library. The rules are usually
similar to those in any public library, with a specified number
of toys and switches to be borrowed for a designated period of time.
provide children with the opportunity to develop a feeling of self
worth that can result from an ability to play actively and enjoy
quality leisure time. Toy selection is only limited by our imagination.
Rosen, MS, Computer Specialist and Toy Library Supervisor at The
Children's Learning Center at United Cerebral Palsy Association
of Nassau County, Inc. Ms. Rosen is a recognized expert in the field
of computerization in the classroom and a distinguished member of
our KidNeeds.com Professional Advisory
Board. She can be contacted directly at (516) 378-2000 extension
414 or through e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org