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The 10 Best Toys and Games for Children with Special Needs

The 10 Best Toys and Games for Children with Special Needs

These toys and games will encourage learning and sensory play in toddlers, kids, and teens with special needs.

Sometimes children with special needs and sensory difficulties need extra-special toys to keep them engaged, help them learn, and encourage sensory play. These ten games and toys will do just that, but also teach math and vocabulary skills, teamwork, and basic life skills to toddlers, kids, and teens with special needs while helping them identify and respond to their feelings. Some of our favorites? Giant Jenga (which the whole family can enjoy), the Basic Skills Busy Board, and the Tumbling Monkeys game. Read on for the full list of fun!

Fidget Toys Sensory Bundle Set

Fidget Toys has a variety of sensory-friendly toys such as textured snakes, a motion liquid timer that looks like a lava lamp, squeeze beans, a rainbow magic ball, and more that will keep little ones entertained. Toys that engage the senses are one of the most-recommended types of toys for kids with autism, ADHD, and sensory processing challenges.

Tumbling Monkeys

This game is best played by two or four siblings. Kids will insert colorful plastic sticks into the hollow, see-through palm tree base, then pour in the little plastic monkeys, and take turns pulling out colorful sticks and try not to let the monkeys fall through! Tumbling Monkeys encourages strategy and coordination and is easy to get the hang of. The colors and cuteness factor of the monkeys don’t hurt either!

Bilibo Child Seat

When you child sits in this circular blue plastic toy, he can be rolled, spun, and rocked for as long as he wants. Curling up in Bilibo encourages awareness of one’s body, helps to stimulate all the senses, and might relax your child as well. 

Feelings in a Flash

This “emotional intelligence flash card game” encourages feelings identification, which can be very important for kids with special needs. Feelings in a Flash doesn’t just help with identification, either—it also provides appropriate responses and coping mechanisms and helps kids build empathy.

Vtech Tote & Go Laptop

This little laptop teaches words, numbers, and more on-the-go while encouraging verbal replies, which is great for kids who might be hesitant to use their words. The laptop also hosts a variety of fun games and characters to keep kids engaged. This is a great toy for long car rides or unstructured stretches during the day.

Teachable Touchable Texture Squares

Educational Insights’ little bag full of textured squares is ideal for little ones just beginning to explore texture and shape. The scratchy, fluffy, silky, rough squares will keep kids engaged for awhile—there are 20 squares to work with! 

Basic Skills Busy Board

Kids with special needs can have trouble mastering tasks like buckling belts and tying shoes. This board of belts, buckles, zippers, and buttons will keep your child entertained while allowing him to practice these skills so he can do them on his own clothing in no time! The fact that this is a board also makes it easy to walk away from a task if he gets discouraged. There’s plenty of time to try again and succeed!

Counting and Sorting Bears

This is another educational game that appeals to the senses while teaching color sorting, math, grouping, and hand-eye coordination (thanks to the tongs meant to pick the bears up). Your child can sort the bears by color into their corresponding cups, mix up the colors, play counting games, make color combinations, do a little math, and more while perfecting his use of the tongs.

Talking Calculators and Dictionaries

For some kids with special needs, hearing their toy talk back to them is the ultimate fun (and helps them learn). There are various talking calculators and dictionaries available that will help cement math and vocabulary words into your child’s brain. Many toys feature large LCD displays for kids with visual impairments.

Giant Jenga

Jenga already encourages coordination and strategy while engaging the touch sense, so making the pieces bigger is a win-win for everyone. Your child will be fascinated as the tower grows taller and taller (the biggest Jenga sets get as tall as some people!). You can write challenges or questions on pieces to make this an intersectional game. For example, one challenge could be for your child to do a math word problem, complete a physical activity, or identify how she’s feeling. Get creative!

RELATED: The 9 Best Board Games for Family Game Night


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Jacqueline Neber

Author: Jacqueline Neber is a social journalism MA candidate at the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY. When she’s not reporting, you can find her petting someone else’s dog. See More

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