Switch Adapted Toys

Young children start to learn how the world works through play – especially cause and effect – and this is an important part of development. A lot of early years toys involve squeezing the toy and it making a noise, or pushing a button and having something happen. However, for many children with disabilities, this can be difficult, as they don’t have fine motor skills control, or may have other impairments.

What MERU can do is to adapt the toy so that a large button or switch will work the effect, which makes it easier to use. Our toy adaptation programme is aimed at making simple toys that help very young children to learn about cause and effect more accessible. It may seem like a small thing for a child to be able to press a button and make a toy sing or perform some other action, but the first realisation that ‘if I do this, then this happens’ is a crucial part of development.

A child with a disability that’s introduced to switches or accessible controls via an adapted toy will be gaining the basics of how to go on to control a powered wheelchair, like the MERU Bugzi, for example.

Being able to have some accessible toys to play with is great, and definitely brings big smiles to tiny faces, but we’re also helping their parents to help them learn and develop in important areas too.

What makes a good toy for switch adapting?

Is it battery operated? We can’t adapt mains powered devices.

Are the batteries changeable? Recently, we have seen more toys where you cannot change the batteries. There seems little point in adapting such disposable toys.

How many actions does it have? We can usually connect to three or four buttons or switches in a toy. If the toy has many actions it may well have many more buttons. It pays to play around with the toy and see what each button does. Sometimes a button does different things each time it’s pressed. These toys give good play value with little adaptation. If the toy has many buttons, will there be enough play value if only 3 or 4 buttons can be adapted. We try to leave the switches and buttons in the toy active so that it can be played with by everyone.

Does it move around much ? There are toys which run around on the floor. It these move a lot the switch cable just gets in a tangle, and frustrates the child. We can sometimes adapt radio controlled toys.

If you have found a toy, but want to check with us, email us a link to the toys description and we will let you know what we think.

We can’t guarantee to be able to adapt every toy, and sometimes disassembly is not possible as manufacturers don’t always make toys to be taken apart. When we receive a toy we assess it’s suitability for adapting. If we don’t think we can disassemble it we will contact you to discuss how you want us to proceed.

If we get new, boxed, toys to adapt we carefully open the packaging so that we can repack it like new if possible.