How to make a toy or activity suitable for
Children with additional needs

Designing a toy can be a complicated process. You may have a great idea and feel that it is the next big thing, but sometimes it is important to see your product through the eyes of a child. This will enable you to really get to grips with what works, what needs adapting and where your product fits within a competitive toy market.  

We are all acutely aware of the need to ensure everything we do is inclusive and as accessible as possible, regardless of disability or additional needs.  Just looking specifically at Autism Spectrum Disorder, in 2021 it was reported that 1 in every 44 children in the US alone was reported to be diagnosed with the condition and in the UK, it is suggested that approximately 1 in every 100 children are diagnosed with Autism.  

Understanding how a toy or an activity that you have created caters to the needs of those children with additional needs is vital to ensure the inclusivity of your product. Here at FUNdamentally Children, we have the expertise and the experience to support you in ensuring your product is not only attractive to a child but that it is suitable for all children, regardless of the presence of additional needs.

What sorts of toys and activities are suitable for children with additional needs?

Often this does not differ far from the requirements of a child without SEND needs and varies depending on the specifics of the child. 

Soft toys such as teddies and dolls provide the foundation for developing healthy attachments and deliver comfort and emotional security in the same way as they would for a non-SEND child. Consideration would need to be given to the appropriateness of your toy if there are small, loose parts that could be broken or become a choking hazard. 

Sensory play is also vital for all children, and this is no less true for children with additional needs and should be considered in the creation of your product. Sensory play helps to develop a child’s motor skills, it improves their language through communicating with other children and importantly it encourages social interaction which is often a struggle for children with additional needs. 

The FUNdamentally Children is able to guide you through this and offer advice on any changes that should be made to your product in order to ensure that it remains inclusive of children who require extra support.

I already have a product but want to see whether it is suitable for children with additional needs.

If you have a product, we can test it. 

When a child is testing a toy, it is vital that it is done in a relaxed and natural environment in order to create organic and authentic feedback. Depending on what your needs are, some products are tested in the child’s home where they are able to interact fully with the product in a familiar environment that is safe and secure. 

For larger group feedback, this can be done at our head office where we have access to a relaxed play area, ideal for testing toys with groups of children of all ages.

Focus groups can be conducted with both the children and parents alike, in order to get both the children’s perspectives and the views of the parents on how inclusive they feel the product is. 

We have access to a wide pool of families including those families with additional needs, meaning that your product will be tested directly with the audience you are trying to reach.

Training, seminars and workshops

We are able to offer a range of training options to suit your needs which can take place in person or online. 

Whether you are offering a service such as a holiday club, or are producing a physical product, we can support you and your team to ensure that you are remaining inclusive of all children. 

This could include those who are working directly with children or product designers who want to ensure they are meeting the requirements of those children with additional needs in their product designs.  

Through our consultation service with one of our child development experts, we are able to review your product and give you expert advice on how well your item caters for children with additional needs. 

Further, we offer an audit service on all current products, in order to review how well they cater for children with additional needs and report on any suggestions as to how these products can be improved.

Accreditation

The Good Play Guide is a globally recognised brand that is highly regarded within the toy industry as the market leader in both child development and experts in play. 

We are able to offer accreditation and endorsement of your product that it has been tested and recommended by the Good Play Guide. 

Conclusion

A child with additional needs is no different to any other child. All children deserve access to play and toys that cater for their specific conditions. With the support of the FUNdamentally Children, ensuring that your products are sensitive to the needs of all children, has never been easier. 

To find out how our research, consultancy, and training services can help you develop quality toys with great play value, get in touch with the team today.