Special needs toys

Special needs toys are specifically designed for children with special needs – they are designed to be fun, interactive and educational.

Special needs toys are adapted for children with special needs. They enable children to learn while they play and can help to develop their skills, whilst also being fun and enjoyable.

Types of special needs toys

Many toys are classed as sensory toys, as they are designed to give children a sensory experience; some toys focus on all the senses, while others target specific senses. Sensory toys allow children to develop a greater understanding of their senses, have fun with their senses and explore their senses.

Multi-sensory toys: these are toys which target different senses. They may include a ball pool, a bubble tube, projectors (these can project images, lights and sounds), activity centres, multi-colour touch pads, mirror balls, bean bags, jigsaw puzzles, noisy toys, multi-textured books.

Visual toys: lights, mirrors, books, flash cards, activity centres, spinning tops, interactive play-mats, stacking toys, toys with flashing lights and bright colours.

Auditory toys: noisy toys, musical instruments, wind chimes and bells, toys with sounds, for example fire engines with sirens and soft toys that sing or talk.

Tactile toys: jigsaw puzzles, activity mats, interactive play centres, puppets and soft toys, soft play, beanbags, balls, water and sand play, messy play.

Smell: scented toys, scented soft toys.

Taste: Super Chew toys: the Super Chew is a plastic oral motor device, which has been designed for children with chewing needs; it is easy to hold.

There are also many toys aside from sensory toys. The toys are specifically adapted for children with special needs and are designed to be easy to use. Many toys are the same as popular toys but have adaptations to make them accessible for children with special needs. For example, the handles may be larger, outdoor equipment may be sturdier and fixed lower to the ground and books may be Braille.

Where can I buy special needs toys?

Some larger toy retailers may have special needs toys but you may find a larger selection of toys on offer at specialist special needs toy companies; you can search for companies and shops near your home by going online or ask staff at the nursery or school your child attends for advice when buying toys and tips on where to find the best selection of toys.