Public Release:  Top 10 toys for children with ADHD

Child development expert reveals top 10 toys and selection criteria for children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder

Porter Novelli

New York, November 16, 2004 - Shire and the Oppenheim Toy Portfolio today announced the top 10 toys for children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), along with selection criteria designed to help guide parents this season as they shop for toys for a child with ADHD. All the toy selections as well as the criteria used are posted on

The Top 10 list of toys has been developed based on the specific needs of children with ADHD, including the need to better focus attention, to gain self-confidence and to learn to socialize and interact appropriately with other children. The selection criteria used to choose these toys may provide useful guidelines for parents to consider when shopping for toys that their child with ADHD can enjoy. Together, the toy list and criteria may help parents interact with their child and also assist them to direct the child's energy in a more productive way.

"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, child development expert and co-founder of the Oppenheim Toy Portfolio. "The Oppenheim Toy Portfolio list provides a selection of toys that have been carefully reviewed to specifically meet the needs of children with ADHD."

This holiday season, Shire is pleased to provide an opportunity for any parent who has a child with ADHD to enter to win one of the toys featured on the Top 10 toy list. To register for the give-away, simply visit and fill out the entry form before the December 15, 2004 draw date.

The 10 toys that the Oppenheim Toy Portfolio has selected as the best toys for children with ADHD are:

  • Gertie (R) Balls from Small World Toys (Appropriate for preschool, early school years)

  • Cranium Hullabaloo TM from Cranium (Appropriate for early - late school years)

  • Magz-x 106 TM from Progressive Trading (Appropriate for early - late school years)

  • Wonderfoam (R) Giant USA Puzzle Map from Chenille Kraft Co. (Late school years)

  • Letter Factory Game TM from Leap Frog (Preschool, early school years)

  • Leap Pad (R) Plus Writing Learning System from Leap Frog (Preschool, early school years)

  • I Never Forget A Face Memory Game from eeBoo (Preschool, early school years)

  • Old Century Shut-the-Box from Front Porch Classics (Late school years)

  • Deluxe Tumble Treehouse and Skycoaster from Maxim Enterprises (Preschool)

  • Bird Diner Kit (R)from Balitono (Early - late school years)

As the holiday season approaches, parents can use the following criteria developed by the Oppenheim Toy Portfolio to choose the most appropriate toys for 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. Extended family members should be encouraged to interact with children who have ADHD, but be sure that these family members have reasonable expectations. For example, 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.

About ADHD

ADHD is a significant mental health concern that impacts patients, their families and their social circles. In fact, ADHD is the most commonly diagnosed mental health disorder in children and adolescents with approximately two million U.S. children, or three to seven percent of all school-aged children, diagnosed with ADHD. Children with ADHD often are inattentive, impulsive and hyperactive - difficulties serious enough to interfere with their ability to function normally in home, academic or social settings. These symptoms continue beyond the school day, affecting all aspects of the child's life. ADHD is a neurological disorder that manifests as a persistent pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity that is more frequent and severe than is typically observed in individuals at a comparable level of development. Hyperactivity is seen less frequently as the patient ages; however, inattention and impulsivity often remain.


The Oppenheim Toy Portfolio

The Oppenheim Toy Portfolio was founded in 1989 and remains the only independent review of children's media. The New York based company publishes an annual guide rating the best children's toys, books, videos, music and software. The organization's ratings also appear on their website, The Oppenheim Toy Portfolio was co-founded by award-winning author and child development expert, Joanne Oppenheim and her daughter Stephanie Oppenheim, a child-development expert and former corporate attorney. Joanne and Stephanie are Contributors to NBC's Today Show.

Shire Pharmaceuticals Group plc

Shire Pharmaceuticals Group plc (Shire) is a global specialty pharmaceutical company with a strategic focus on meeting the needs of the specialist physician and currently focuses on developing projects and marketing products in the areas of central nervous system (CNS), gastrointestinal (GI), and renal diseases. Shire has operations in the world's key pharmaceutical markets (US, Canada, UK, France, Italy, Spain and Germany) as well as a specialist drug delivery unit in the US.

For further information on Shire, the Oppenheim Toy Portfolio or the Top 10 Toys and criteria please visit the websites:,,

Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.