The Ultimate Guide to Choosing Special Needs Playground Equipment

Playground equipment designed with special needs children in mind can be a real benefit to your playground. Find out how to select the right equipment for your playground, and build a more inclusive environment for all kids!

If you are in the process of planning and designing a playground, chances are you want to make sure that it is inclusive and accessible to all children. This may seem like a daunting task, but with a little bit of careful planning and research, it is indeed achievable!

So, how can you find the best special needs playground equipment for your playground? The first step to finding the best special needs playground equipment is understanding the needs of each child individually. You need to consider the different disabilities children may have and what type of equipment would be most beneficial for them. Next, you should find a reputable manufacturer or supplier of special needs playground equipment. It is also worth speaking to other parents or professionals who have experience with special needs playgrounds to get some recommendations.

This blog post discusses everything you need to know about choosing the best special needs playground equipment for your playground. Read on to learn more.

Understanding the Concept of Inclusive Play

The first step in finding the best special needs playground equipment is understanding inclusive design. Inclusive design is designing products and environments that can be used by as many people as possible, regardless of age, ability, or circumstance.

When it comes to playgrounds, this means designing a space that can be enjoyed by all children, including those with special needs.

A sandbox on an inclusive park.
Inclusive design is designing products and environments that can be used by as many people as possible, regardless of age, ability, or circumstance.

Playground owners often make the mistake of thinking that they need to purchase separate, specialized equipment for children with special needs.

However, this isn’t the case! The inclusive design allows all children to play together on the same playground. This makes playgrounds more affordable and helps promote social inclusion and friendships among all children.

Furthermore, research has shown that inclusive playgrounds lead to more active and engaged play among all children. So, not only is inclusive design the right thing to do – it also has many benefits!

What to Consider When Choosing Special Needs Playground Equipment

There are a few key things that you need to consider when choosing special needs playground equipment. These include:

1. Research, Research, Research!

The best place to start when looking for special needs playground equipment is doing your research. Talk to parents of children with special needs, occupational therapists, and other experts in the field.

Find out what type of equipment is available and what would be most beneficial for the children who will be using the playground.

The International Playground Equipment Manufacturers Association (IPEMA) is an excellent resource for this information.

2. Consider Different Types of Disabilities

There are many different types of disabilities that children may have. Considering these disabilities when choosing playground equipment is essential since different kinds of disabilities require different types of equipment.

Some common types of disabilities include:

  • Cognitive Disabilities: These conditions affect a child’s ability to think, learn, and remember. Examples include Down syndrome, autism, and ADHD.
  • Physical Disabilities: These conditions affect a child’s ability to move their body. Examples include cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, and spina bifida.
  • Sensory Disabilities: These conditions affect a child’s ability to see, hear, smell, touch, or taste. Examples include blindness, deafness, and sensory processing disorder.
A swing for person with wheelchairs.
Considering the disabilities when choosing playground equipment is essential.

Before purchasing a piece of playground equipment, it is crucial to consider which disabilities it will accommodate.

For example, a swing set might be great for children with physical disabilities, but it wouldn’t be suitable for children who are blind or have sensory processing disorders.

3. Age and Developmental Stage

When choosing playground equipment, it is also essential to consider each child’s age and developmental stage. Different age groups will require different types of equipment.

For example, younger children may need softer and more padded equipment since they are still learning to control their bodies.

On the other hand, older children may need more challenging and stimulating equipment, such as a climbing wall.

Furthermore, different age groups will also have different developmental needs. For example, younger children may need equipment that helps them develop gross motor skills, such as hopping or climbing.

Older children may need equipment that helps them develop fine motor skills, such as using a slide or swings.

When choosing special needs playground equipment, it is essential to keep these age and developmental needs in mind.

4. The Environment

The environment is another important consideration when choosing special needs playground equipment. The type of equipment you choose should be appropriate for the environment in which it will be used.

For example, if the playground is in a park with many trees, you could consider choosing equipment made from natural materials, such as wood.

Kids running at the grass.
The environment is another important consideration when choosing special needs playground equipment.

If the playground is in a school with a concrete yard, then you might want to consider choosing equipment that is made from steel or plastic.

Also, consider the climate of the environment when choosing playground equipment. For example, if the playground is in an area with extreme heat, you might want to select equipment that provides shade or is made from materials that won’t get too hot in the sun.

5. Size and Layout of the Playground

The size and layout of the playground are another critical consideration when choosing special needs playground equipment. The type of equipment you choose should be appropriate for the size and layout of the playground.

For example, if the playground is small, choose smaller pieces of equipment, such as a seesaw or slide.

If the playground is large, go for larger equipment, such as a climbing wall or zip line.

Consider the playground’s overall layout when choosing special needs playground equipment.

For instance, if the playground has a lot of curves and turns, you might want to consider choosing equipment specifically designed for that type of layout, such as a spiral slide.

6. Consider the Needs of Each Child Individually

Another vital factor to consider when choosing special needs playground equipment is the needs of each child individually.

Not all children with special needs have similar requirements, so it’s essential to consider each child’s specific needs before making a purchase.

For example, some children may need equipment that is wheelchair accessible, while others may need sensory-rich equipment.

Considering each child’s needs, you can choose enjoyable and safe equipment for everyone involved.

7. Cost

The cost of playground equipment is another critical consideration. You must make sure that you choose a piece of equipment that is within your budget because special needs playground equipment can be expensive.

Some types of equipment, such as swings and slides, are more affordable than others, such as climbing walls and zip lines. It is essential to compare the prices of different types of equipment before making a final decision.

Consider whether any warranty or guarantee covers the playground equipment. This is especially important if the equipment needs to be repaired or replaced.

8. Safety

Safety is always the number one priority when choosing special needs playground equipment. The equipment you choose should be safe for all children, regardless of age, ability, or developmental stage.

Family having fun at the swing.
The equipment should be able to accommodate children of all abilities and should be safe for all children to use.

When considering safety, there are a few things that you need to keep in mind. First, you must ensure that the equipment is made from durable materials that won’t break easily.

Second, you need to make sure that the equipment is age appropriate. For example, a piece of equipment suitable for a 5-year-old child might not be ideal for a 10-year-old child.

Finally, ensure that the equipment is designed for children with special needs. This means that the equipment should be able to accommodate children of all abilities and should be safe for all children to use.

9. Get Expert Advice

If you are still unsure about which pieces of equipment to choose, or if you have any questions about installation or maintenance, it is a good idea to get expert advice from someone who specializes in special needs playgrounds.

You can find experts online or by contacting your local parks and recreation department.

An experienced special needs playground expert will be able to help you choose the right type of equipment for your playground and can also provide you with valuable tips on installation and maintenance.

10. Install and Enjoy!

Once you have all the special needs playground equipment you need, it is time to install it on your playground!

Siblings having fun.
It is a good idea to get expert advice from someone who specializes in special needs playgrounds.

This is usually a straightforward process, but if you encounter difficulties, get in touch with the supplier for assistance.

After everything is installed, sit back, and enjoy watching the children on your playground having fun.

Final Thoughts

We hope these tips will help you find your children’s best special needs playground equipment.

Remember, safety is paramount, so always ensure that the equipment is made from high-quality materials and is well-maintained and regularly inspected.

Age-appropriate and accessible playgrounds are essential for all children—not just those with special needs—so keep those factors in mind. Thanks for reading!

Last update on 2023-02-04 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

read this next

If you are planning to install a playset for your kids in your backyard, it can be confusing and scary to think about the space needed around the play equipment. Here is our quick guide to help you determine how much space is required around a playset.
The joy of enjoying the outdoors for extended periods of time will come alive if you install a playground in your backyard or on your porch. Some children can spend hours playing outside, all their energy focused on the activities that interest them. If you want to be part of this positive play experience, create your own playground area for kids following this guide
Although wooden playsets are typically durable and long-lasting, you can make them last even longer by proper maintenance and preservation. Sealing, staining, and painting your wooden playset along with weatherizing the equipment will help you avoid undesirable damage and prevent it from deteriorating.
It is usually a lot of fun for children to play in or around monkey bars. But, for parents and caregivers, it can be a bit of trial and error finding the best material to put under the monkey bars. There are many alternatives; some of them are better than others for several reasons.
Now it is easy to learn how to build your dream playground with Ted’s Woodworking. Learn how to design and build all of the equipment you need. This course includes hours upon hours of online video instruction that provide in-depth coverage of every step along the way as Ted guides you step by step through each project.
The name teeter-totter is derived from the English verb “teeter,” which means to sway or totter, and the noun “totter.” A teeter-totter consists of two platforms that alternate the movement of children so they can stay balanced.
Picnic tables are available in a wide range of sizes, from 6 to 12 feet. In order to find the perfect sized table for your location, first determine how many people you want it to accommodate. When purchasing a new picnic table, remember that it must fit into the space where you plan on using it.
Creating a good looking and safe playground takes a lot of time, research, and dedication. The process can be challenging, but the outcome will be fulfilling. It will make your kids happy and save you from the stress of having to take your kids out to a community playground
Allowing the kids to play outdoors is important for the proper development of cognitive abilities and interpersonal communication skills. Outdoor play also makes the kids more independent and helps them with learning about the environment.
As parents ourselves, we know how important it is for kids to get outside and have fun during the summer months. Our backyard playsets can help kids enjoy time with their friends or siblings, and with a variety of different options available, you’re sure to find one that fits your style.
Backyard sandboxes are a great way to save on expensive trips to the beach, provide hours of entertainment for children and adults alike, and create a unique outdoor community space. Consider these nine outdoor sandbox ideas if you’re looking for a budget-friendly way to upgrade your backyard.
We’ve all been there be it when we were kids or when we have gone out to play at a playground. There is one constant question that everyone seems to ask about the washable, rubber mats in playgrounds: do they get hot in the summer?

Receive the latest news

Get Our Playground Newsletter

Stay updated with the latest promos, tips, advices, and much more!

Your privacy is important to us.