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Special needs children benefit from therapeutic toys

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Picking out toys for children is tough as it is. You need to know if it's safe, age appropriate, and of course if your child will enjoy it. But parents of children with special needs may also want to consider a toy's therapeutic value. For children, their work is play and part of their tools are toys. That's especially true for children with special needs. Carol Chinn is the educational director for United Cerebral Palsy in Wilmington. She says toys can be instrumental in helping these children learn and develop. "Toys are a good way to work on interventions with children," Chinn said. "So it's real important when you're thinking about buying toys for children with special needs that you're aware of what are their strengths and what are their needs and work from that." For children with physical handicaps, there are toys like therapeutic chairs that help strengthen legs and mid sections. Then there are tricycles with pedals adapted to keep feet strapped down. The tricycle helps develop muscle memory. But for the most part, Chinn says buying toys for these children is like shopping for any other child. "You do have to know something about the child. So if it's a child that likes music, then there are a lot of musical toys that you can buy," Chinn said. "You just want to make sure that you know what the cognitive level of the child is and what their physical abilities are." And of course, they need to be fun to play with too. Chinn says toys for special needs children need to be special ordered. Many of them can also be found at places like Wal-Mart and Toys-R-Us.

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