Providing play toys and stimulation for children and adults with learning difficulties or disabilities is an important part of helping to develop the motor, auditory and visual skills, including hand eye co-ordination, that are needed in some part for everyday living. It can be a challenging time for both parents and therapists as a child with learning difficulties grows up – having the right sensory toys and products on hand that help to promote skills which can make all the difference.
It’s thought over 350,000 people in the UK have a severe learning disability which means they have difficulty understanding new information, learning the skills many of us take for granted and being able to cope on their own. This can affect a person in early life and carry on into adulthood – in more severe cases it means that they will always need some form of assistance. Finding a way through, both for the individual and their carer, is the challenge and often requires a good deal of innovative thought.
A number of health care professionals can get involved when a learning disability is diagnosed including physiotherapists, educationalists and psychologists who can all combine to find solutions to the on going need for development. It can be a difficult time for parents and those growing up with a learning disability in particular and getting the right help and support is highly important if a person is to live as full and active a life as possible.
Sensory Toys That Make a Difference
Most toys are designed for children without a disability and it can be all but impossible to find ones that both provide entertainment but that also help to develop sensory faculties in a meaningful way. Something with a more tactile nature that can be stretched and bent can be especially useful as it allows children to explore the sensation of squeezing and needing an object whilst also helping to develop better motor skills in some cases.
The problem with creating toys for children with special needs is that the term encompasses a wide range of conditions which require wildly different solutions and approaches. A child with Attention Deficit Disorder is not the same as one who has a physical disability such as being partially sighted or someone who has cerebral palsy. They all need different ideas bringing to the table. At a young age, if a condition has been identified, there could be little difference in the toys chosen, but as someone grows older more specific tools have to be used.
What you do want are toys that are safe to handle. This may be so for children generally, but it is particularly important for those with learning disabilities. At LANCO they’ve developed a range of eco-friendly toys that are designed to be safe and can provide tactile stimulation without fear of them breaking.
Eco-Friendly Sensory Toys
They are made from organic latex which is free from potentially toxic materials such as PVC and nitrosamines. Safety is a big driver for the company as is being a lot more eco-friendly than many other toy manufacturers. As all are biodegradable and hand painted, it’s not just parents who have children with learning disabilities who love sensory toys from LANCO.
Integrating great sensory toys into the world of children with learning disabilities can help make minds more attuned to learning and increase positive interactions with the surrounding world when it may often seem cut off. The great thing it adds fun to the process of learning and gives children and some adults a connection that would otherwise be missing.
Children with a learning disability love to play as much as anyone else and the look, feel, smell and sound of their toys is an important part of ensuring that they get the most out of this time. Tactile toys such as the ones LANCO produce can promote better quality motor responses and hand-eye coordination as well as improving concentration through play. Children can shake, throw, bend, need and stretch them to their hearts content, getting hours of fun whilst learning how to focus, discriminate sizes and develop better visual perception.
Sensory Toys for Adults
It’s not just children that can benefit from sensory aids. Adults can too, particularly the elderly and those who have developed conditions such as dementia. Patients who have suffered from a stroke and are partially disabled through paralysis may gain help from a tactile toy that you might only consider for a children. Again they can squeeze and stretch it, retraining damaged muscles and reflexes to work again.
Senory toys can help develop a great sense of well-being for many older people promoting and encouraging better social skills and boost once forgotten memories. They can be used in group play and also provide comfort on their own. Adults can have all sorts of problems with cognition, physical and emotional trauma and finding the right ‘toy’ can help alleviate stress and create a sense of belonging.
Finding ways for people, both children and adults, to improve their motor skills is often a big challenge when it comes to some learning disabilities and health problems in later life:
- A person may be unable to hold a pencil and write their name but a malleable toy could help them to fine tune their motor skill and memory to retrieve that ability once more.
- A child might have problems with grasping objects but playing for a while with a LANCO toy could enable them to build the mechanical skill set that makes a difference to their lives.
- Children can bite, suck and chew on the toys because they are perfectly safe and this can help to encourage rudimentary language skills that can then be developed more with the help of a professional therapist.
We take in information from a variety of senses and using as many as possible can create an entirely different world and future. The usefulness of LANCO toys is in providing those with a learning disability or physical difficulty with a range of products that are fun to use but at the same time help physical and mental development.