The Games Therapists and Special Needs Parents Love to Hate:

There are a variety of games that fall into this category… some hold fond memories for us from our childhood, but unfortunately modern quality and changes have diminished so much to the point where we have lost all love for the game; some are great for children, but as adults the repetitiveness drives us crazy; and some are so bad they drive everyone involved up the wall.

This list is sure to grow. Please let me know if you would like me to add on to this list or make a new one each time.

Great Game for the Kids, but Drive Adults Crazy (aka, you should buy them, but not play daily).

Some of these games you may see in individual reviews, because they are still great therapy tools.. but they should come with a warning label.

Cupcake Race
Cupcake Race by Endless Games

This game is adorable and works on so many things. I also like that they have so many variety of cakes other than chocolate! (Thing 2 is allergic to chocolate). So, the primary focuses of this game are counting and fine motor skills. You spin the spinner to get the number to move AND to see the color sprinkle you will get. Easy mode, you have to cover your cupcake with sprinkles and make it to the end… (this is the mode that drove myself and the older kids crazy). Advanced mode, you have to have at least one of every color sprinkle before leaving the “top it” area and advancing to get your cherry.

I do recommend this game, but I admit I had to shelf it after several years of the beginner rules and daily play.

Poorer Quality Over the Years

Cootie circa late 70’s and 80’s and Cootie now

I LOVED Cootie. I had the Deluxe version that came with a hard shell case. I kept it until I gave it away as a teen thinking I could buy it again when I have kids, and I kick myself to this day for that…

Let’s start with the plastic quality. It is a cheaper and lighter weight plastic than it once was. They come unassembled, as in the thorax and the head are in half and you have to put them together. The older models stayed together forever. The newer game would frequently fall apart mid play. I ended up having to glue the halves together. This same plastic issue affected the gameplay itself. The whole point of the game is to assemble a cootie. With the newer set, we struggled with parts falling out continuously leading to frustration with kids (and myself).

Having different colored legs wasn’t a design flaw, but it became a hurdle we faced with rigid Asperger’s. If any other player mixed up the colored legs to where there wasn’t a full set of same colored legs, meltdowns would ensue.

All in all, not a bad game, but they need to release a vintage version.

Bad Over-all

Candy Land
Candy Land by Hasbro

Ah, yes… Candy Land, the fantastical, colorful world of confections. I’ll admit, it is quite aesthetically pleasing and the characters are amusing. I mean, other than maybe 1%, who doesn’t want to loathe Lord Licorice? (Sorry, 3% like black licorice.)

So what makes this game a favorite among therapists to hate? Simple, the board layout. Most therapists I have spoken with said they spend more time redirecting the kids on which way to go than learning lessons like colors, “the direction goes this way,” “I know the lines are touching right here, but they aren’t really touching, you can’t jump to the other side without a rainbow,” etc.

For higher functioning kiddos, it teaches nothing, its all based on chance and the game can potentially last forever when you add in the candy travel cards.

Mouse Trap
Mouse Trap by Hasbro

This game just fuels frustration. The slightest movement and all the hard work has gone to waste. It’s similar to the feeling of setting up a bunch of dominos on their side and having them fall before your want them to.

If you have a kid who likes to build or tinker, get them something to build or tinker with. Don’t get them a game that relies on other people to remain still while they build or tinker and the entire objective is to trigger the trap over and over and over… hope it’s not allergy season.

Hungry Hungry Hippos
Hungry Hungry Hippos by Hasbro

This game has no educational value, it doesn’t help with occupational either as kids just bang it. The new design makes the hippos detachable and sometimes they come apart mid game sending marbles flying. And the noise…. this is horrible for kids with SPD and neurotypical kids will just yell at each other during the game to be heard. I hate this game.

Operation by Milton Bradley

The game of fine motor skills not ever most artists have and nerves of steel… this game is a whole lot of NOPE for special needs kids with its stress inducing, impossible tasks. I admit, they do have some interesting specialty boards that would make cool collector items. If you’re really nostalgic about the game, rather than upset the kiddos, get the Funko POP figure instead.

Cavity Sam by Funko POP
Any Game Featuring POOP!

Yes, potty-training is difficult with most special needs kids, some never do get into regular underwear… but we are also trying to teach some that poop is not paint, or issues with touching nether regions… we don’t need a game confusing the issue. So if you are a friend or family trying to help and be cutesy… no poop. Examples:

Flushing Frenzy by Mattel

You take turns plunging and hope the poop doesn’t jump out at you; one has undigested corn in it… I’m so done.

Don’t step in It by Hasbro

You get blindfolded and walk in a poop minefield. They have Doggy poop, Llama poop, and Unicorn poop versions. Obviously, the creators have a) never stepped in poop or b) have a poop fetish.