In Ellen Kingsley’s article in “ADDitude” magazine, “The Best Toys and Game for ADHD Kids,” she explains that psychiatrists and educators often use toys as a therapeutic tool for children with ADHD. Parents can follow suit, integrating toys and games to open up lines of communication with their children and address specific issues and behavioral goals.
Kingsley points out that, while several companies specialize in therapeutic toys for children with ADHD, you can use inexpensive, conventional toys as well. The key in playing with children with ADHD is to play appropriately. Use toys as a vehicle for fantasy and role-playing for younger kids. For older children, emphasize taking turns, social skills, strategizing, handling failure and staying organized.
Dr. Harvey Verby published a guide to choosing appropriate toys for children with ADHD on the MentalHelp.net website. He recommends simple manipulatives such as building blocks or Legos, basic chapter books you can read aloud together, costumes, puppets, basic art supplies and large floor puzzles. He adds that swimming, skating, music, martial arts and art lessons complement these toy selections well.
Verby advises that toys and games can address children’s specific play needs. He claims that toys can help children with ADHD focus, build self-esteem, socialize and learn acceptable ways to interact in a variety of situations.
According to Ruth Manna’s article “How can I handle a student with ADHD?” on the Scholastic.com website, small tools for fiddling around can actually help a student with ADHD focus. Giving your child a small toy, such as a Nerf ball, so that he has something to keep his hands busy. In school, teachers can try other tools and toys for absorbing fidgety movements, such as a ball of clay, a seat cushion or a slant board for writing.
Manna adds that the toy that works well one day may not have the same success on another day. The essential challenge in working with children with ADHD is that, once the novelty of an activity wears off, they require a new approach to hold their interest and keep them motivated.