Toy Ideas for Children with Cerebral Palsy and Special Needs


One of the more common problems with mainstream toys is that they are meant to be used with two hands- often times children with cerebral palsy will have limited use of one side of the body or the use of only one hand.

Toys should be fun and children should have a feeling of accomplishment or success when playing- not frustrated or reminded of what they cannot do.

Many of the commercial toys on the market can be adapted or used by children with cerebral palsy.

There are many toys that you can buy at any toy store or department store that are affordable and fun to use. Look for toys that can be used with one hand.

Musical instruments are great for this- a trumpet, harmonica, xylophone or maracas. These also develop a sense of cause and effect with young children and help controlled movement with older children.

Magnetic type toys are all the rage and a big hit with kids of all ages- there are tons of magnetic toys available in many forms- magnetic jig saw puzzles, magnetic construction toys and magnetic marbles.

A simple ball is a lot of fun and great for developing coordination- get a neat ball that glows in the dark, flashes lights or play music when you roll it.

Toys or play that involve the senses will help with sensory integration development.

Sand and water are great for this. You can also fill a empty dish pan with uncooked rice- a great makeshift sand box for a rainy day.

A tip to avoid sand box mess: put the sandbox on cement blocks- will be at waist level and kids won’t get sand in all their clothes.

Toys that help with coordination and controlled movement are also a good choice.

Bowls filled with beads, beans or jelly beans are good for sorting, counting and grouping. Excellent for controlled movement.

Building blocks- simple wooden blocks, large dominoes for stacking also help with controlled movement. Also try empty milk cartons for stacking.

Play-doh is always a favorite- make your own play-doh and use Kool-Aid to not only color it but give it a fruity scent. Your child will be developing sensory awareness and visual motor integration skills as he plays.

Keep a box around filled with wheeled toys. Toy trucks and cars of all sizes. These deal with non-verbal expression, problem solving and self-control.

Keep toys in site so your child can see what available- avoid opaque containers and lids. Baskets are great for this.

You can find many toys in local stores and make your own from even around your house without having to spend a lot of money on adaptive or special needs toys. Mainstream toys help with developmental skills such as cognitive awareness, controlled movement and coordination- and don’t forget they are fun!