What Gifts to Give Your Special Needs Child
How to handle gift giving for a special needs child that is functioning at a lower cognitive level than their age?
Our son is 4 years old, but cognitively functions more like a 6 to 9-month old baby. We are often faced with the dilemma of what he likes vs. what is age appropriate. When do we take the pacifier away? What can he take out in public vs. playing with at home? What do we tell others to get him for a gift?
What should we get as a gift?
This question should be answered by looking at the child. Gifts should be something useful (like clothes) or something they like. If you can find something they like AND something that will motivate them toward a therapy goal, then you have hit the jackpot!
For us this year, it is a motorized car that is adapted with a switch button. He has been working with a switch button at school. This button helps him give meaning to his movements, which will lead to him being able to choose “yes” or “no”. Which, in turn, will lead him to be able to communicate with us…which will give him some control over his own life; instead of us telling him what to do! This also allows him to work his core muscles, legs, balance and head control without even thinking about it. And he loves movement, so it is easy to get him to push the switch button on the car.
What can they take out in public vs. keeping at home?
This may be harder for you to answer. How do tell your child that they can’t take their favorite “thing” with them into the store? Or do you let them take that “thing” and not care what other shoppers think? To answer this question, you need to look at what the favorite “thing” is. Is it big? Is it loud? Will they drop it? How much do you want to be dealing with when you are out?
Our son has a few favorite things so we can change them out depending on where we are. If we are at home, or in the car, he gets the light up, musical, bulky turtle. At Grandma and Papa’s house he can take a smaller toy that lights up and plays music but is about the size of a cell phone. At the store he gets to take a rattle. Yes, he is 4 and still carries a rattle! We tend to not care what others think. If they are going to stare we might as well give them a show! This may not be your opinion, though.
If you do care what others think, then you may want to try and get them to play with something more socially acceptable (like a bandana) at home and carry it through to your outings. Always try things at home first, where they are in their comfort zone.
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