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A Pediatric Perspective

Gift Ideas for Children with Special Needs

Published November 7, 2013 8:50 AM by Wendy Spoor-Hof
Well it's that time of year again. The holidays are right around the corner. As a Birth-to-Three provider I am often asked if I have any suggestions on what gifts would be appropriate for the children I work with. My first suggestion is to think about what interests their child the most. What makes their face light up, what might cause them to giggle and laugh or what captures their attention even for just a few moments? It's important to not just have a toy that will help them learn but one that they will enjoy and want to play with. One that engages them because if it is something that interests and intriques them then they are more than likely to play with it.  With that in mind, my next suggestion is to think about what skill they are working on that a toy may be able to help them with. Are they concentrating on gross motor, fine motor, or speech skills? Are they looking to help with sensory or cognitive challenges?

It use to be hard for parents to know which toys would be best suited to help in each of the developmental areas. The good news is that there are now several websites that have lists that can help families make good choices when it comes to holiday gift giving and figuring out how to find a toy that might captivate their child's interest and help them gain progress in the areas they are working on. What I like about these websites is that they explain why these toys would make good gifts - what will these particular toys help with (fine motor, gross motor, sensory integration, eye/hand coordination, etc).  A few of the sites I use quite frequently are:

Parenting-10 Toys Great for Children with Special Needs. 

Fat Brain Toys: Special Perspective - Toys, games, and tools for children and adults with special developmental needs.  Toys are listed by health challenges (Autism, ADD/ADHD, Hearing Impairment, Hydrocephalus, Traumatic Brain Injury, Vision Impairment, etc)

Toys R Us - Differently-Abled 2013 Guide - Each year Toys R Us comes out with a guide show casing toys that "aid in the development of children with physical, cognitive, or developmental disabiliites.  They also now have an "App Guide" and a "Skill Guide."

Melissa and Doug  - Toys for Special Needs - "These are the top toys and trusted skill-builders that help boost developmental skills in children of all abilities, organized by therapeutic and skill criteria to create a practical resource for families with special needs."

Fun and Function - "Where Kids of all abilities learn through play" - Website has headings in 7 different developmental areas.  Toys as well as therapy equipment are listed.

I am sure there are more sites out there that I am not aware of. Is there one you use as a "go to" when it comes to gift giving? I would love to hear about them and add them to the list so other parents can use them as a resource. Do you have any toys that you have either given or received that have captivated the child it was intended for? Does your child like a particular toy that you would recommend to other parents and if so, why?

The holiday season can be a stressful time for children. In the next couple of weeks I will share some strategies to help make this time of year less stressful on our children. 

Until then - happy shopping!



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