CYC-Online 71 DECEMBER 2004
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Toys for Children with ADHD

The Shire and the Oppenheim Toy Portfolio, an independent review company of children's products, announced the selection criteria designed to help guide parents this season as they shop for toys for a child with ADHD.

"There is no doubt that children with ADHD have special play needs. Choosing the right toys for them to play with in order to help their growth and development can be a challenge," said Stephanie Oppenheim, a child development expert and co-founder of the Oppenheim Toy Portfolio.

To their great credit, the company then went on to offer the following sensible tips for working and playing with their child with ADHD:

Play to their strengths
Many children with ADHD have plenty of energy that they need to use so physical activity should be encouraged. For example, sports like swimming or karate can provide a valuable outlet.

Build confidence
Children with ADHD have trouble completing lengthy tasks because they often become frustrated and discouraged. While bringing home an elaborate and complicated puzzle or construction set might seem like a great treat, it may be too intimidating for a child with ADHD. Instead, start out simpler and give your child a puzzle or construction set that has fewer components and is recognizable, such as an oversized map of the United States.

Remove distractions
Does your playroom look like a toy store? Children with ADHD are easily distracted when there are lots of toys around vying for their attention. To help your child focus, it might be helpful to have a play table where only one game or toy can be played with at a time. Place other toys in closed cabinets. In this case, less is definitely more.

Keep it short
Games with short play times are a better choice than those with lengthier ones. Selecting games with only a few easy to understand rules is the best choice for children with ADHD.

Dramatic play
Giving children the props for pretend play, whether it's a set of costumes, puppets or a playhouse, also are solid choices for helping children to develop their imaginations and communication skills. Role-playing with dolls, stuffed animals or action figures allows children to express feelings that they might not otherwise be able to do directly.

Artistic expression
Many children with ADHD are often told that they are not doing something the right way. Open-ended art supplies like clay, big markers or paints give children an opportunity to express themselves in a non-verbal way. There is no right or wrong way to use these art supplies. As a parent, it is also your job to provide positive reinforcement. For example, you can help coordinate an art show for family members to attend.

Make sure everyone is on the same team.
Be aware that you can help children cope with ADHD and create a supportive environment that involves the whole family. Children with ADHD cannot be expected to sit still for long projects or games. It is important for everyone to be aware and considerate of each other so that no one will end up frustrated or in tears.

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