Your guide to care and support

Accessible toys, play and learning

Toys for children with physical or learning disabilities need to be safe for them to use and suitable for their particular needs. Non-specialist toys can be suitable, but you do need to make sure they are safe for your child to play with.

For example, if your child is likely to put the toy in their mouth, make sure it does not have any small parts, which they might swallow. You should also be careful not to leave button batteries around as these can be harmful if swallowed. The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents has advice on toy safety.

There are many specialist toys designed for children with different disabilities, including those with sight, hearing and mobility issues. You may be able to get advice on choosing toys from a professional working with your child, such as a paediatric occupational therapist.

Your GP or local authority can help you contact a local paediatric occupational therapist.

Other parents and informal support groups can also be a good source of recommendations, as they may have direct experience of using the toys. You may also find that some disability organisations sell recommended toys and games from their website, or provide links to recommended specialist toy companies.

Costs of toys and play equipment

Specialist toys can be expensive, but you can cut costs by borrowing them. This is also a good way to ensure a toy is suitable for your child before buying it. Some areas have a local toy library, and this may have play equipment that you could borrow, sometimes for a small fee.

You could also reduce the cost by making your own toys, or by using household objects. For example, you can make your own bubble-blowing solution using baby shampoo.

If your child has very particular needs and you can’t find anything suitable, the charity Remap may be able to help. Remap has volunteers who can design and produce tailor-made items for people with disabilities.

Sensory environments

A sensory environment, also known as a multi-sensory environment or a white room, is a safe place where someone with multi-sensory impairments (deafblind) can experience different sounds, textures and colours.

These environments can be a specially created room in a school or day centre, or could just be part of a room in your house.

The disability charity Sense has tips on setting up a sensory environment at home.

More information about toys and play


Page last reviewed: 15/01/2015

Next review due: 15/01/2018

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