On the search for amazing toys for special needs kiddies!

Posted on Dec 2, 2012 | 9 comments

May, 1 1/2 years old, plays on some scrunchy (cheap) foil she still loves

What is your child’s favorite toy?

On the BabyCenter Blog, I’ve asked readers to send in suggestions for a Special Needs Holiday Gift Guide. I want every kid to get what they want this year! (Also, I want to play with all the toys myself, but that doesn’t seem as likely.)

My sister – the wonderful, the gorgeous, the wise – Aunt Carrie, asked me what to buy May this year and suggested I ask my readers. So, over to you, dear readers:

What is the best toy for a special needs kid?

All disabilities, genders and ages please. Anything and everything – that’s what we want!

You can post your ideas here, or on my original BabyCenter post:

Wanted! Your favorite toys for our special needs gift guide

And, please spread the word! Thank you – and the kids will thank you too!


  1. My son who is 3 and has quad cp loves music and loud noises, so this year I have bought him a huge floor piano mat from amazon, he can lie on it, kick it, bounce on it and watch while I manically run up and down it for his amusement. it’s extremely sensitive so even the lightest touch can create music, it’s very brightly coloured too. Obviously not tried and tested by the boy himself yet, but have my fingers crossed it will be a big bit this Xmas!

    • That is an amazing idea! One of our friends bought one of those for May when she was little. She loved the sounds. I hope it goes down well at Xmas for you!

  2. we are getting Henry a bell carousel (http://learningshop.co.uk/large-rainbow-musical-bells-carousel – although a lot cheaper through fledglings) – he tried one at portage and totally loved it. It makes a lovely sound and requires very little effort to make music although it does require someone to spin it…

    I was also thinking of getting him one of those mathmos jelly lights so we can hide under the covers and have a disco.

    so glad you are doing this, my family too are asking for recommendations and I am completely at a loss!

  3. oh and I found this great glow in the dark book – The game in the dark by Herve Tullet – which looks like a nice addition to our sensory play.

  4. My 10 month old son has spastic quad CP. Top toys in our house include the foil blanket (as modelled by May) and he thought bubble wrap was the most interesting and hilarious accessory for the first 6 months. Being tickled by bubble wrap elicited his earliest giggles. A cheap plastic ‘slinky’ provided by our fantastic portage person has also proved a hit – great for wiggling over arms and legs and easy to play with in side-lying. I also put it over his feet and let it shake down his legs. Of course, it doesn’t make much noise but I provide additional sound effects to up the sensory input. Apart from pound shop bargains like that, he also loves the Early Learning Centre’s ‘Lights and Sounds Musical Buggy Bar’. It responds well to an unco-ordinated bash, the lights and sounds responses are pleasingly melodic and the music varies with each touch so it doesn’t get too monotonous for me either (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Early-Learning-Centre-Lights-Musical/dp/B0068IIUC8). At physio sessions he plays happily with the ridiculously expensive ‘special needs’ sensory bead curtain (http://www.galt-educational.co.uk/product/Sensory-Bead-Curtain-N0558J). I don’t know how the manufacturers can justify that price. Surely you could buy a beaded door curtain from B&Q for much the same cost. At home, I’ve discovered that my hair, a few cheap chain necklaces and also some curtain fringe from a charity shop provides similar fine motor stimulation but without the £100 price tag…

    • Very sorry, giggler’s mum! For some reason this went into my SPAM folder. I just fished it out! The post is already up, but you will be pleased to learn that two of the toys you mention here made the list. The foil, and the sensory bead curtain – which I agree, is ridiculously expensive. I advised people to buy one of those beaded curtains that adorn hippy’s college bedroom doors instead. But, I like your idea too!

  5. My nine year old son is autistic and has some sensory stims so we always have Chewstixx handy for him. It seems to cut down on his nail biting and seeking other non-food items to chew on. He also loves the Scanimation books like Gallop, Swing, and Waddle. The Boing Magic Ball keeps him busy for a while and he’ll still go for the Waterfall Rainmaker when he needs some calming down. I got most of it on the Fat Brain Toys website, they have so many awesome things to choose from!

  6. I was thinking since you have posted about how May loves to bounce…could you find some jingle bells and sew them onto some socks or a pair of pants so that when she bounces she can make music at the same time. It would be something similar to the foil, but a different sound. Or maybe even some soft wristband type things so when she moves her arms she is rewarded by the pretty sounds? Just a thought. I know we did something similar for my little boy when he was a baby.

    • Great idea and we do have something like this! We have jingles bells that are attached to a strap that uses velcro to wrap around her ankle or wrist.

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