Are you shopping for an amazing gift for a child with cerebral palsy or with other special needs?
You’re in luck! We have compiled a great list of resources and ideas to help you find the perfect toy or game for infants and children of all ages!
*DISCLAIMER: We have accepted no compensation in return for any of the recommendations on this list, nor do we make any commission on any of the included links. The opinions in this guide are based exclusively on our own research and thoughtful consideration.
Cerebral palsy is a neurological disorder that affects a person’s ability to move and maintain balance and posture. Children with cerebral palsy often face unique challenges when it comes to playtime, and finding toys that can help them develop important skills while also being fun and engaging can be a difficult task for parents and caregivers.
How Can Adaptive Toys Help Kids With Cerebral Palsy?
Much of how children learn is through play. Children are full of curiosity and wonder. Every new shape, color, texture and sound is a new opportunity for a baby’s development.
Toys and games can teach children about the world around them and encourage the development of practical abilities like:
- Motor skills
- Problem solving
- Conflict resolution
Children with cerebral palsy are no different from other children in this regard. Although a child’s abilities may be limited, stimulus and encouragement through play can help children with CP learn and grow, become more confident, and overcome individual difficulties.
Adaptive toys and equipment
Children with cerebral palsy may struggle with motor control, coordination and strength, which can make it challenging for them to use standard toys and equipment. Adaptive toys and equipment are designed to make it easier for these children to play and engage in activities.
These can include toys with larger buttons or levers that are easier to grasp and manipulate or equipment adapted to their unique physical needs, such as tricycles or bicycles with special seats or hand grips.
Adaptive toys and equipment can also help children with cerebral palsy develop their motor skills and coordination and improve their independence and self-esteem by allowing them to enjoy the same types of play and activities as their peers.
Below are some of our favorite adaptive toys:
- Cerebral palsy walker. A walker helps children who have difficulty moving around by providing them with support while they stand up. There are 2 types of walkers, front-to-back or side-to-side, depending on the needs of your child.
- Reachers. These long-handled tools help kids pick up objects they can’t grasp by hand because of limited mobility in the arm or fingers.
- Fold & Go trampoline. This small, portable trampoline comes with a rail to hold on to for safety and can help kids with CP develop muscle strength and coordination.
- Adaptive bikes. Adaptive tricycles or bicycles can be used to help children with cerebral palsy build strength and coordination while also promoting safety with features like seat adjustability, a back support system, a caregiver brake and a rear steering handle.
Adaptive toys and equipment can often be custom-fitted to each child’s needs based on their specific disability and physical capabilities.
Children with cerebral palsy may have difficulty processing sensory information, which can make it challenging for them to engage with the world around them. Sensory toys are specifically designed to provide different types of sensory input, such as visual, auditory or tactile stimulation, that can help children with cerebral palsy explore and learn.
Sensory toys can help to calm children with CP and give them a sense of security. They can also be used to improve their fine and gross motor skills, as well as to develop their cognitive and emotional skills.
Sensory toys can be used in therapy sessions, at home, or in the classroom to help children with CP develop their full potential.
These are some of our favorite sensory toys:
- Textured balls. These balls have different textures, such as bumps or ridges, which can help children develop their sense of touch.
- Sensory boards. These boards have different textures, such as velvet or sandpaper, and can help children develop their sense of touch and fine motor skills.
- Light-up toys. Toys that light up or have different colors can help children with visual impairments develop their sense of sight.
- Musical toys. Toys that make noise or have different sounds can help children with auditory impairments develop their sense of hearing.
- Weighted toys. These toys have extra weight and can help children with sensory processing disorders feel more grounded and calm.
- Adaptive switch toys. These toys are operated by switches, which are easy to activate for children with limited motor skills.
- Sensory bottles. These bottles can be filled with different materials, such as water and food coloring, to create different visual and tactile experiences for children.
Books and games
Children with cerebral palsy may have developmental delays or other challenges that make it difficult for them to engage with traditional books and games.
Books and games that are specifically designed for children with cerebral palsy can help to overcome these challenges. For example, books with large print and bright illustrations can be easier for children with CP to see and understand. Games with larger pieces or buttons can be easier for children with CP to manipulate.
Books and games can help children with cerebral palsy develop a wide range of skills, such as language, cognitive and emotional skills. They can also be used to improve socialization and creativity. Interactive books that involve sound, touch, and movement can help children with cerebral palsy explore different concepts engagingly and interactively.
Our favorite books and games for children with CP include the following:
- Puzzles. Puzzles help improve hand-eye coordination in children with cerebral palsy. There are many different types of puzzles available, from picture puzzles to shape puzzles, so choose one based on the child’s interests and abilities.
- Board games. Board games help children with CP develop fine motor and social skills. Choose a game with larger or easy-to-move pieces like Trouble or Connect Four.
- Picture books. Picture books or books with large print, such as Izzy and Moe’s Big Day Out and I’ll Always Love You, can be a great gift for children with cerebral palsy.
- Switch-adapted computer games. Adapted computer games are designed to be played with a switch or other adapted input device, allowing children with cerebral palsy to enjoy computer games while improving their fine motor skills.
Children with cerebral palsy may have difficulty communicating or moving around due to motor and cognitive issues. Assistive technology, such as speech-generating devices or mobile devices, can help children communicate and move more independently.
Speech-generating devices, also known as communication devices, can help children with cerebral palsy express themselves when they have difficulty speaking. Children can use these devices to select pre-programmed phrases or type out their own messages. Mobility devices can help them to navigate their environment and participate in activities that may otherwise be difficult.
Assistive technology can have a major impact on the quality of life for children with cerebral palsy by providing them with greater independence. These devices can also help them participate in school and other activities and improve their self-esteem and socialization.
Some top assistive technologies to consider include:
- Communication devices. These devices, such as “Dynamic Display Communication Devices,” allow children with cerebral palsy to communicate through pre-programmed messages or by typing on a keyboard or touch screen.
- Adaptive switches. These switches can be used to activate various devices, including lights, toys, and communication devices, by a variety of means, such as a sip/puff switch, head movement, or touch.
- Adaptive seating. Specialized seating systems, such as positioning chairs, can help children with cerebral palsy maintain proper posture and prevent pressure sores.
- Augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) devices. These devices, which are commonly laptops or tablets, help children with cerebral palsy communicate through pictures, symbols or speech-generating devices.
- Adaptive software. Software such as eye gaze technology can be used to control a computer or other electronic device using eye movements or other adapted input devices.
Children with cerebral palsy may have difficulty dressing themselves. They may also have specific needs related to positioning or mobility that make it difficult to wear traditional clothing.
Adaptive clothing is designed to address these challenges and can include various features that make it easier for children with cerebral palsy to put on and take off clothing, such as Velcro closures or snaps instead of buttons.
Clothes made of soft, breathable fabrics can also be more comfortable for children with cerebral palsy who are sensitive to certain fabrics.
Adaptive clothing can be a great way to help children with cerebral palsy dress themselves and allow them to participate in school and other activities with less discomfort.
Here are some top adaptive clothing ideas to try:
- Button extenders. These small devices can be added to clothing to make it easier for children with cerebral palsy to button or unbutton their clothes.
- Snaps or Velcro closures. These types of closures can be used in place of buttons or zippers to make it easier for children with cerebral palsy to get dressed.
- Seamless/tagless clothing. Some kids with CP are sensitive to tags and seams on clothes, which can cause discomfort and make it more difficult to concentrate. Fortunately, a wide variety of manufacturers offer tag-free and seamless clothing options.
- Adaptive footwear. These shoes are designed to accommodate orthotics, braces and other assistive devices that a child with cerebral palsy may need.
- Adaptive clothing with special features. Clothing with features such as adjustable straps, open-back designs, and magnet closures can help children with cerebral palsy get dressed independently.
Finding the right sensory toys for children with cerebral palsy is a crucial aspect of their development and overall well-being. Parents and caregivers of children with cerebral palsy who are considering incorporating sensory toys into their child’s daily routine should consult with their child’s therapist or healthcare provider to determine which toys would be most beneficial for their unique needs.
Best Toys & Games for Children With Cerebral Palsy In 2021
The best toys for children with CP tend to be ones that are thoughtfully designed to encourage either mental or physical development in kids. These children may have physical limitations that present difficulties when interacting with toys.
Every child is different. Mindfully selecting a toy that is well-adapted to the child’s individual abilities can be a rewarding and fun experience for all!
Getting help for a child with HIE or Cerebral Palsy
can make a big difference
Because early intervention is often key to helping improve a child’s wellbeing, it’s important to act swiftly. At the Brown Trial Firm, our Houston birth injury attorneys can help you investigate your case, find answers to your questions, and determine whether you are entitled to compensation. We offer case reviews at no cost or obligation. Many birth injuries that cause cerebral palsy could have been prevented.
Continue reading to find the perfect gift for any child with CP!
Whirly Squigz is a toy that suctions onto any kind of surface and spins. This bright and colorful toy encourages the development of hand eye coordination and cause-and-effect in babies. The soft silicone is also safe for teething toddlers.
Fat Brain Toys Dimpl
This Dimpl toy features five silicone bubbles of varying colors and sizes. Children can push, poke, and grab the dimples to pop them in and out. This toy encourages sensory exploration and fine motor skills, in addition to teaching cause-and-effect.
VTech Sort and Discover Drum
The VTech Sort and Discover Drum contains five blocks. Each block is a different color and shape. The blocks are numbered one through five and depict a different animal on the surface of each block. The drum plays songs and makes sounds and lights up, encouraging and rewarding children for sorting the blocks. This toy encourages children to develop motor skills, begin learning colors, shapes, animals, and numbers, as well as understand cause-and-effect.
Learning Resources Spike the Fine Motor Hedgehog
Spike the Fine Motor Hedgehog features fine motor games for toddlers. Each of the colorful quills are designed to teach color recognition, sorting, and counting skills. The peg shapes are designed to be just the right size for grasping and learning fine motor skills.
LeapFrog Spin and sing Alphabet Zoo
The LeapFrog Spin and Sing Alphabet Zoo introduces children to letters, animal names, and sounds. Each learning mode operates by spins of the wheel, and the child is rewarded with playful musical and light responses to each touch. This toy encourages fine motor skills in addition to teaching kids their ABCs, colors, shapes, and animals.
ZZZ Weighted Blankets Sensory Sack
The ZZZ Weighted Blankets Sensory Sack maximizes a cool and calming effect among children. The soft, smooth, stretchy, and snug materials can soothe a child with feelings of warmth and protection.
Kinetic Sand is like magic, sticking to itself but not to you (or your child)! This toy kit comes with 20 ways to play, the sand will never dry out, and the sand won’t stick to hair, and clothes, and skin. The kit comes with 7 multi-use molds to create kings, queens, and castle-themed shapes. Stimulate a child’s imagination with kinetic sand.
YBIKE Pewi Elite Bike Walking Ride on Toy
Suitable for children ages 9 months to 3 years (max weight 44 lbs), this award winning walking buddy can be used as a push toy, a walker, or as something to ride on. The toy provides diversity of options and support for children as they build strength and develop confidence pushing, walking, steering, and working on complex motor skills. Ideal for indoor use but rugged enough for outdoor use on smooth, level surfaces.
Playskool Sit ‘n Spin
Intended for kids 18 months and up, the Sit ‘n Spin is a popular toy for young children that also helps them develop muscle growth, spatial awareness and balance. All the child has to do is sit on the disk and turn the wheel to start spinning.
The Vibrating Pillow is a fundamental tool for working with sensory integration. The pillow can be used either to relax or stimulate a child and stops when pressure is released. Fun to play with, it also produces a calming effect.
Feelings Flashcards Game Emotion Cards
The Feelings in a Flash card game includes 50 richly illustrated, family and school-friendly scenario cards. Each card corresponds to an emotional state and offers children opportunities to build confidence, learn empathy, and express their feelings at a young age.
Toyzabo Challenging Puzzle Speed Cube Ball
The Toyzabo Challenging Puzzle Speed Cube Ball is an award winning brain teazer! The ball contains 12 holes and 11 colorful balls inside. By fidgeting the ball, you can pass the balls from one hole to another. The objective is to unscramble the puzzle, matching each ball with its corresponding hole. Fun for children ages 6 and up, this toy is a great stress reliever that promotes healthy brain activity and hand eye coordination.
Champion Sports Plastic Scooter Board with Contoured Handles
The Champion Sports Plastic Scooter Board with Contoured Handles provides a comfortable and flexible way for children to scoot about on the floor. Children can sit, kneel, or lie prone on the scoot board, making this toy particularly accessible and functional.
Toddler Busy Board – Montessori Sensory Board for Toddlers
The Toddler Busy Board comes back with 9 buckles, ties, and buttons, giving children a wide range of developmental levels to conquer. Each feature is safely and thoughtfully designed to present a different type or degree of challenge for children.
Original Toy Company Fold & Go Trampoline
The Fold & Go Trampoline is a fun and moveable toy that’s perfect for helping kids with CP develop balance, coordination and strength. Made for children age 3 and older, this toy can hold 1 child up to 150 pounds, has a padded frame and comes with a safety bar for added support. Even still, it’s important that kids use caution when jumping and have supervision.
Have a favorite toy that we missed? Let us know in the comments below! We would love to hear from you and keep growing our list.
Contact a birth injury attorney
As a birth injury lawyer, Laura Brown understands the challenges that parents face when trying to support their child’s development after a birth injury like cerebral palsy. Providing your child with the medical care and assistance they need requires a great deal of patience, time and money.
If your child has suffered a birth injury due to medical negligence, you may be entitled to significant compensation for their medical bills, hospital visits, and future care like therapy and medical caretaking. The sooner you act, the better the result can be for your child.
At Brown Trial Firm, attorney Laura Brown will fight for you and your family to ensure that you’re fairly compensated for your losses. If you suspect your child’s birth injury was caused by a preventable medical mistake, contact her today for a free consultation of your case.