The following post is by Ellen Metrick of the National Lekotek Center, the country’s central source on toys and play for children with special needs.
Games have a way to bring families together. There are games that cater to big groups, small gatherings, different ages and yes, different abilities. Children who have disabilities may face many obstacles, but with a little help, games can encourage interaction, development and fun for all involved. And, individual games are helpful for children who may become over-stimulated and need a quiet time activity. Here are a couple tips when choosing the right game for your child/family.
1. Levels of difficulty Choose games that have different levels of difficulty. This helps children who learn at different rates and can speak to different skills levels. Qwirkle is a domino-like game that can be played simply by matching colors or shapes, but can also incorporate strategic thinking for more advanced players.
2. Large pieces Choose games that have large components or play pieces like the spinner of S’Match. They are easier to grasp with a whole hand and eliminate the frustration of required refined manipulation.
3. Play duration Look for games where duration can be altered. Children who have attention difficulties often face the frustration of not being able to complete a game. By altering the game, children can enjoy the game but for the time they are able to commit. Zingo to Go accomplishes this with snap-together pieces. Snap together enough to challenge without overwhelming.
4. Segmented compartments Games that have individual compartments for the play pieces work well for children who may have involuntary movements. The compartments keep the game pieces in the desired spaces. Chocolate Fix is an example of this.
5. Attached pieces Pick games that have attached pieces, like Amaze. Children who have physical limitations can easily retrieve the attached stylus if it is inadvertently dropped.