Did you know that about 7.7% of children below the age of 14 in Australia have some sort of disability? So that's just below one-tenth of children in the country.
Whether you are a parent, teacher, school administrator, or grandparent, you may be curious about special education resources. Knowing what special needs children need for learning and play is vital to their development and success.
Keep reading to learn more about resources and toys for special needs children.
What Constitutes Special Needs?
A special needs child means that a child needs more specific attention and individualised special necessities that others may not need. This doesn't mean just because you think they do, but rather what they need to be successful in everyday life for successful growth and development. This can also be a legal designation stating the child's special needs.
Special needs can range from physical needs to psychiatric needs. It also includes chronic and terminal illnesses as well as cognitive disabilities.
A few examples of conditions that may constitute special needs are:
- Mental health issues
- Asberger's Syndrome
This is not a complete list, just a few that are more common.
Special Needs Toys and Play Equipment
Consider special needs play equipment if you are trying to branch out from more traditional play toys. These sensory toys are meant solely to help the child with sensory processing issues in the way they need help.
For instance, some children need toys to practice eye contact or focus on large muscle groups. In short, they need their toys to have a purpose other than just play.
A stress ball that is large and squishy is the perfect example. Although it just looks like a toy, it can help children that suffer from depression, anxiety, and even ADHD to keep themselves busy. Additionally, it's not just for kids. A stress ball can help adults as well.
In addition, some toys can also be used as special needs therapy equipment (in a relatively hidden form). For instance, some children need a fidget spinner to improve focus. While this looks like a toy, the child can benefit by keeping their hands busy and mind focused and learning instead of acting out with that energy.
Sensory processing disorders can cause development issues if untreated by professionals.
Here's a look at a few other special needs toys in Australia.
Many special needs children have sensory overload, like children with ADHD. It's hard for them to focus on one thing without being overwhelmed by other senses.
A weighted toy can help with sensory stimulation to reduce their feelings of being overwhelmed by everything around them. They can then concentrate on the task at hand minimising their distractions.
Using weighted toys in a learning setting can be highly beneficial for children with sensory overload. They can provide a weighted comfort and familiarity to the child when feeling overwhelmed. Additionally, they are not bulky or cumbersome for the child to keep close at hand.
In addition, weight can help with putting a child to sleep, which aids in learning self-regulation.
Putty can be an excellent toy for special needs children who often find themselves angry and are unable to deal with it. It is crucial to understand their needs and provide an environment and the correct tools to help calm them.
Instead of just using a traditional stress ball, putty seems more like a toy than something to "help" them. This perception can help them interact with the device easier.
The putty uses a combination of different textures, which aids in reducing stress. It also allows the user to focus solely on the putty, which removes detractions and will enable them to get through their anger healthily. Not only that, but the repetitive movements can also be very calming for people.
But wait, putty has even more benefits as one of the toys for special needs children!
Putty can also be used to stop fidgeting. Children who have trouble concentrating could benefit from playing with putty.
Children who struggle with time management often need tools to help them achieve certain things and accomplish tasks. But that doesn't mean there needs to be a stopwatch next to them ticking away. So, why not make it more fun and less stressful with a liquid timer?
Liquid timers have colourful oil drops that create exciting shapes when they get to the bottom. Then, you can just turn it over when the time is up. It's a fantastic and engaging way to introduce time management to them.
This is great for children who need a timer to help them with the following:
- Knowing how long to brush their teeth
- Help them to sit still for a certain amount of time to get a task done (like homework or studying)
- Help them wait for you to finish the task you are working on before interrupting
The liquid timer is also great for classrooms when the entire class needs a break from work or project time!
Sensory mats are a great resource to use with special needs children. They can be beneficial in a classroom, at home, or even play in the park.
Although the mats add texture and sensory stimulation, they can be great during quiet time to improve concentration and focus.
Sensory mats are an excellent resource for children who need help with balance and developing motor skills. They can be a huge hit in PE classes or other physical activities.
Special Education Resources for Special Needs Children
Whether parenting a special needs child or teaching one, it's not always easy or common sense to know what to do. You may need to read through some special education resources and talk to other people to learn what is best for them. Then, you'll want to look into special needs equipment in Australia.
Develop conversational skills
Hopefully, with this guide, you know the suitable toys for special needs children as well as the purpose of each of them.
Gross motor skills and fine motor skills
We have a collection of special needs toys ranging from bedtime to bath time and behavioural toys to socialisation toys. Check out our range of products here.