Children with disabilities cannot always use conventional toys, and this makes them vulnerable to being excluded in play situations. TAD has been involved in an interesting project to create a resource of toys specially designed for use by children with additional needs.
Maria is the Resource and Support Educator at the Children’s Services Resource and Support Program, which is run under the umbrella of Hornsby Shire Council. She has worked to assemble a variety of toys in their resource library which make it possible for children with disability to play games with other children. ‘The idea is to promote inclusion,’ she said.
One toy for younger children is a small Bobs set, which can be used on a table by a child in a wheelchair. Made by volunteer Marco Colli from plywood, it measures about 70cm across.
Maria also sought out battery operated toys that TAD volunteers could adapt so they could be operated by children with low manual dexterity using a remote wedge or jelly bean switch. A Thomas the Tank Engine set is operated on the same principle.
For older children, volunteer Ian McLelland made a set of dominoes and a noughts and crosses game. The painted dominoes, made out of plywood off-cuts and kept in a neat wooden box, measure approximately 8 x 4cm so they are easy to pick up. The noughts and crosses each have knob handles and are held in place on the board with hook and fastener tabs.
The snakes and ladders game is simple but effective. It consists of a large mat with snakes and ladders on it purchased from Spotlight, with disks and dice of lightweight foam in different colours made by volunteer Ingram Paterson. A child who is not able to walk on the mat can push their disk into place with a long stick.
There is also a ten-pin bowls set, made by volunteer Robin Cox. This has a ramp that means the child does not have to swing the ball but can aim it and release it down the ramp towards the pins.
The height of the ramp can be adjusted to suit the height of individual wheelchairs. The pins are full-sized bowling pins made of light plastic, and are fitted with a draw-cord arrangement so they can be easily reset by an assistant.
The program loans the toys to a variety of services where there are children eligible for Child Care Benefits, including long day care, occasional care, family day care, outside school hours care and vacation care.