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10 Toys Great for Kids with Special Needs

  • And Now, Our Creature Presentation
    Kids with Down syndrome can have difficulty with fine motor skills, so games and puzzles with just a few large pieces to work with are often a hit. Especially good are games like this Monster Toss -- its level of difficulty can be adjusted to custom-fit the child and her developmental stage. Try starting out close, and then slowly moving farther back! ($34.99;

  • Speak to Me
    For kids with autism, focus on cause-and-effect toys (push a button, get a response), especially those that promote interaction by encouraging a verbal reply. Vtech's Tote & Go Laptop Plus does just that, teaching letters, words, and more through fun games and friendly characters. ($21.99;

  • Trunk Show
    Juvenile arthritis can limit movement in certain parts of the body, so choose a toy that gently works the area that's compromised. Because slow and easy gestures are used to catch the cascading butterflies, Elefun is ideal for kids who have trouble with their upper joints. ($19.99;

  • Bigger is Better
    Children with cerebral palsy often have involuntary, spastic movements, so toys with big parts are better. Lego's chunky Duplo Basic Bricks fit the bill. ($19.99;

  • Tunnel They'll Love
    There are two sides to sensory integration impairment: It makes some kids feel overstimulated by the world and causes others to seek out more interaction. For those who like to escape, a tent-and-tunnel combo is ideal. ($69.95;

  • In the Loop
    For kids with cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, or any condition that affects the motor systems, look for toys that work with their limited movements. A good choice if he uses a wheelchair: the Infinite Loop. It increases upper-body dexterity and concentration as he opens and closes the tracks to keep the ball on its path. Two balls of different weights, for two difficulty levels, are included. ($23.85;

  • Paint Life Grand!
    Think open-ended crafts for kids with ADHD because focusing on directions can be hard. Instead of paint-by-numbers, get a kit that gives plenty of creative license, like Paint a Rock Pet. Also available in a turtle. ($11.99;

  • Spin Doctor
    Anything that spins is often a draw for children with autism, as they tend to like repetition; gear sets are a smart choice. The Gears! Gears! Gears! Lights & Action Building Set by Learning Resources has a motor, lights, glow-in-the-dark stickers... heaven! ($56.99;

  • Baby, You Can Drive My Car
    Consider games that adapt to fit the developmental stage of a child with Down syndrome. The object of Rush Hour is to move vehicles out of your car's way to escape the gridlock. Players progress at their own pace, tackling four levels of difficulty. ($19.99;

  • Just Say Dough
    Glow in the Dark PlayFoam can be squished and formed into luminescent creatures. But it doesn't stick to hands and offers tactile stimulation -- bonuses for kids with sensory integration impairments. Accessories included. ($19.99;