Saturday, December 01, 2007

It's That Time of Year Again

December. The joy of the holiday season has begun. Lights - Music - Decorations - Gifts. What do you buy for a disabled child?

Chris Coleman wrote me a message about this very topic.

Holiday time is exciting for every child. Each year kids wait with anticipation to open special gifts hiding within beautifully wrapped packages. This year, more than 6 million of America’s children awaiting gifts have disabilities. For parents, grandparents and friends, selecting toys for differently-abled children can be challenging. Afraid of selecting the “wrong” toys, many parents, families and friends of special needs children end up placing socks and pajamas in those brightly colored boxes, instead of what kids really want – toys and games.

Chris reminds us that all children want to have fun. Parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, friends, all want to buy the best, most appropriate toy for the child with a disability. So where do you start?

“The first step is to look at what your child can do and what skills you want your child to use or practice. Think about skills such as fine motor, gross motor, language, or reading. The key to choosing a successful toy is understanding your child’s abilities AND the features of the toys.” -- Diana Nielander, Executive Director for the National Lekotek Center

A new web site has been launched to help shoppers learn about the "hidden" features of the toys. The free website, AblePlay, was designed to help make the best match between the toy and the child. Toys on the site have been evaluated and rated by Lekotek's trained therapeutic play experts.

To see the National Lekotek Center's Top Ten Tips for selecting toys for disabled children, see my post on Down the MS Path. Happy shopping!

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