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 2023-07-23 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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