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8 Playtime Modifications for Children with Disabilities


Whether it be at home, daycare, school or extracurricular activities, children with disabilities may benefit from modifications during playtime. Here are 8 questions to ask when assessing a child’s needs during playtime:

  1. Does the environment need to be modified? If the physical environment is adapted perhaps the child will be able to be more independent during playtime. For example, move toys down to lower shelves to allow the child to access the toy without asking for help.
  2. Do the play materials need to be adapted? For example, build up a handle on a toy so a child can grasp it independently or use a larger ball so a child can catch it.
  3. Do you need to make the activity easier? For example, change the rules of the game to shorten the length of time to play or simplify the steps of a game.
  4. Do you need to make the play time more motivating for the child? Perhaps the child is not engaging in play because he/she is not interested in the toy or activity. Try using what a child enjoys playing with in different situations to expand his/her repertoire of play.
  5. Do you need to provide adaptive equipment? For example, use a chair with more support to provide additional postural control so the child can use his/her arms and hands more efficiently.
  6. Do you need to provide prompts to encourage appropriate play? Try modeling the activity or providing occasional verbal prompts for suggested uses of the toys.
  7. Do you need to partner the child with a friend? Try teaming the child up with a friend to model play activities or turn taking to complete a game.
  8. Do you need to provide step by step visual directions? Try placing visual step by step photographs in the play area for reminders of suggested play activities.

Play - Move - Develop

Play Move Develop is a collection of 100 reproducible sensory motor activities to encourage motor skill development and learning.  Find out more information.

Reference: Sandall, S. Play Modifications for Children with Disabilities. Young Children Journal. Retrieved from the web on 9/23/16 at http://journal.naeyc.org/btj/200305/playmodifications_sandall_1.pdf

Read more on Gross Motor Skills and the Development of Play here.