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Choosing the best holiday or birthday gifts for children with cerebral palsy can be difficult. Many family members and friends of a family with a child with cerebral palsy are not sure what will be both appropriate and really pleasing to the child. The gift-buyers are wary of giving a toy that is "wrong," and thus many kids with cerebral palsy end up getting "safe" gifts such as clothing rather than a toy that would provide joy and fun.
A nonprofit organization committed to making toys and learning accessible to all children with disabilities — the National Lekotek Center — provides a number of excellent guidelines to help those about to shop for toys for kids with cerebral palsy or another disability. "Lekotek" is a loose translation of a Swedish word, "lek," which means "play" or "toy," and the Greek suffix "tek," which means "library." The Lekotek movement began in Sweden.
Here are the top ten things to consider when you're buying a toy for a child with cerebral palsy, in no particular order:
1. Where toy will be used — Think about whether the toy can be played with by a child who is using a wheelchair tray, or lying down. Consider, too, whether the toy is easily stored.
2. The child's unique characteristics — Determine whether the toy provides play activities that match the child's chronological age and developmental stage, plus his or her personal interests.
3. Opportunities for success — Can playing with the toy be open-ended with no definite right or wrong way? Can it be adapted to the child's individual ability and pace?
4. Safety and durability — Make sure that the toy you choose is durable and appropriate to the child's size and strength. A toy that can be washed and cleaned is another plus.
5. Multisensory appeal — Toys with multisensory appeal have aspects such as colors, sound, lights, texture, movement, or even a fragrance.
6. Method of activation — Is the toy difficult to activate? Are there numerous steps to take to use it? Or will the toy offer frustration?
7. Current popularity — Is it a toy that the child in question has asked for? Does it tie-in with media such as TV, movies, books?
8. Self-expression — Consider whether your gift encourages creativity, uniqueness, and choice-making.
9. Adjustability — The ability to adjust the level of difficulty, sound volume, or height of a toy is also a positive attribute.
10. Potential for interaction — A toy with which a child can actively participate and use in concert with other people is also a good choice.
(Source: United Cerebral Palsy)
Do you or someone you know have a child living with cerebral palsy? For more information on resources and legal help, contact a cerebral palsy attorney today.