All kids love new, cool, fun toys—and that includes kids with disabilities. But it's not always easy to find, let alone choose, the right toys for a child with special needs. How do you know if a toy will match a child's abilities, let alone enhance his or her skills?
According to government statistics, there are more than six million kids with disabilities in the U.S., which is more than 13 percent of the child population.
For those six million excellent reasons, we've partnered with the National Lekotek Center—the leading not-for-profit authority on play for children with disabilities—to offer AblePlayTM rated toys, which are specially geared to kids with special needs.
"These are toys all kids can benefit from and enjoy," says Jennifer Smith, One Step Ahead Merchandising Merchandising Director.
"The difference is, they've also been independently rated by play experts in the area of special needs regarding their suitability for kids with disabilities."
AblePlay-rated toys are evaluated in four disability categories:
These affect the motor systems. These can include skeletal, muscle and joint abnormalities which in turn limit a child's ability to move, stand, sit, play, reach, etc. They include:
These affect a child's ability to gather and understand information from the environment through any of the five senses. These include:
These affect a child's ability to communicate verbally due to limited or altered comprehension and use of language. These include:
These affect a child's ability to process information, reason, remember, and express emotions. These include:
The AblePlay rating system is based on a scale of one to five stars. Here's what the stars mean:
According to Raiko Mendoza, Director of Business Development at the National Lekotek Center in Chicago, "The AblePlay ratings provide a snapshot of a toy's appropriateness relative to specific disabilities."
These ratings make it easier for parents and family to choose specific toys for a specific child.
All information is taken with permission from Able Play. For more details, please visit the AblePlay website.
Like all of our products, each of our AblePlay-rated toys has its own webpage. On each webpage, you'll find the toy's AblePlay rating and description. Once you review it, you'll be in a better position to decide if a given toy is right for your child.
And even parents of kids who don't have special needs can use the ratings as a toy selection tool, since different toys develop different areas of child development.
As you may know, we design many of our own exclusive products, including developmental toys. We submitted some of these for AblePlay testing, and you can see how they rated on their AblePlay webpages.
According to the National Lekotek Center, here are ten factors to consider when choosing toys for children with disabilities.*
The beauty of AblePlay-rated toys is that they are inclusive. These are the same exact toys kids will find at their friend, cousins, or neighbor's house. And that's important, because when it comes to play, children with disabilities want to be included in the same way as everyone else.
National Lekotek Center
© 2014 One Step Ahead