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With the provision of specialist toys, four year-old Arjun Malik, from Oadby in Leicestershire, is learning to play with with his family.

Buying toys for little Arjun, is not as easy because he has Downs Syndrome and is hearing impaired. He needs extra stimulation and specialist toys have helped him engage and enabled him to explore different forms of play.

Over the past two years, Arjun has been provided with the loan of Interactive, Tactile and Auditory Play Therapy Pods from Newlife, the Charity for Disabled Children, which is the UK’s largest charity provider of essential equipment to meet the specialist needs of children with disabilities and terminal illness.

Arjun has made so much progress that his mum, Sarmi Malik, has donated £300 towards the Play Therapy Pod service to help more children like Arjun. She said: “I decided to donate to the service as I want more families to benefit from the pods as we have. I can see that he is genuinely learning and has come such a long way because of it. Newlife has helped take away the stress of spending a large sum of money on a toy that I’m not sure Arjun will like.”

Interactive toys help improve hand-eye co-ordination, auditory toys encourage interaction with others through play and sound and Tactile toys stimulate touch and encourage motor function. Sarmi said: “Because specialist toys for children are so expensive, Play Therapy Pods are a great way for me to find out what Arjun enjoys. I would never have thought to buy him toys like these but they work in a completely different way than standard high street toys.”

Play Therapy Pods are full of sensory and developmental toys to help children with complex needs, allowing families to ‘try before they buy’.

“His favorite toys have been a teddy bear that plays peek-a-boo and a tortoise that projects stars onto the walls. It’s been wonderful to see him improve and play with toys that are suitable for him and his needs,” added Sarmi.

The Pods – which each contain around £400 worth of toys – are available for a variety of needs and ages; from birth to 18 months, 18 months to three years, three to five years and five to 18 years. Free of charge and loaned for between 12 and 16 weeks, the Play Therapy Pods are aimed at stimulating senses as well as helping children be comforted and distracted from pain through play.

Application forms for Play Therapy Pods are available online by going to Further information about Play Therapy Pods is available from the charity’s Care Services Team on 0800 902 0095 (free from UK landlines and mobiles).

Pictured: Arjun Malik