5 toys and games kids with special needs will love

Toy expert Ahren A. Hoffman, manager of Industry Relations& Partnerships, National Lekotek Center, Chicago, knows kids just want to have fun — but that it doesn’t hurt when they have toys and games that help them develop motor skills and language.

She has found five gifts this holiday that can handle the double duty.

1. With its magical combination of open-ended imagination and gross motor play, we love Educational Insights‘ Magic Moves Electronic Wand. Fundamental learning is provided through auditory, visual and kinesthetic stimulation during play. Alone or with friends, there is no wrong way to play.

2. Kids can transform little orbs from beads to squishy spheres with water. Cause and effect learning is practiced as kids soak and then squish the Orbeez. Maya Group Orbeez always delivers tactile stimulation that is sheer delight to the senses.

3. For the board game lovers, we suggest Peaceable Kingdom Great Cheese Chase. All games from this company require cooperation—players win or lose together. Cooperative games are a peaceful way to teach kids about good sportsmanship.

4. The NogginStik is truly a milestone maker and we haven’t met a baby that doesn’t like it! SmartNoggin Toys’ NogginStik has a unique feature that is unlike a traditional rattle. When tapped or shaken, a soft glow light changes colors between red, green and blue to stimulate the eyes and encourage visual attention.

5. An interactive playset that kids love to pretend with is Vtech’s Go! Go! Smart Friends Busy Sounds Discovery Home. With a plethora of interactive characters including Jayden& his wheelchair, this is a set packed with inclusive learning and imagination potential.

Want more ideas? Check out our gift guides created by our own resident toy expert, Senior Editor Elizabeth Diffin, with her picks for babies, toddlers and preschoolers.

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