Mom Approved Gifts: Perfect Season for Fun
Mom Approved Gifts
Buying gifts for a child or teen with special needs can prove challenging. As a Mom to a son who has Cerebral Palsy, I have struggled over the years to come up with gifts that my son can use and that he will find fun and exciting.
My son, BJ, is non-verbal and has problems with his hand function and mobility and that limits what I can buy.
Every child is different in their level of ability and I do find it hard to find age appropriate gifts. Although I strive to give BJ age appropriate gifts, I am conscious that there is no point in it being ‘appropriate’ if he cannot do it or get enjoyment from it.
Keep in mind, it may take more time to buy a gift for a child with special needs, but the joy of seeing them enjoying playing, and being able to use the gift, is worth every minute of effort.
BJ has one of these Air Hogs and loves it. These also come in a fairy version. Holding your hand out flat and moving it controls the aircraft’s flight. This is good for someone who has good hand control. It does take skill to keep it airborne and in the right position, but the great feature of this toy is that it doesn’t require good fine motor skills, like many remote control operated toys.
There are springs under the little, wooden-people pegs. Isolating a finger is the aim and when you push down on the pop-up toy, it springs out of the container. Lots of giggles and fun can be had with this toy.
I am a big fan of the Melissa and Doug range of toys. This is a new take on the old matching puzzles. It makes the sound of the vehicle or animal when the puzzle piece is correctly placed in the puzzle board.
We haven’t used these chubby markers but they look easier to grip than the regular thin markers for someone with poor hand function. They grabbed my attention when I was in the toy shop recently.
Maintaining grasp of a pen or pencil can be hard for many children with special needs. BJ’s Occupational Therapist made him a little lycra holder for these crayons. The lycra holder had a slit in it which the crayon slipped into and then wrapped around his hand. A little piece of Velcro attached it so even when he let go of the crayon it remained in reach.
Pull String Toys
Pull string toys have been fantastic for BJ. He has had a variety of them over the years. This UFO toy was very popular last year.
BJ has good strength in his feet so, with assistance, he can manage these pop up rockets. It is a great reward for managing to stomp your foot. It requires him to look, focus and then target the pump with his foot.
This is built for indoor play. The hover disc can glide on most surfaces and has bumpers so it doesn’t damage walls. BJ finds using his feet works well for him so he has been more accurate kicking the hovercraft than using his hands. The toy also comes in a soccer version.
Pump Action Water Game
BJ finds pump action toys work well for him. He can’t manage the ones with a trigger, but this water gun is a great alternative and has good size handles for gripping.
Bug in a jar with magnifier. I can imagine lots of little people enjoying the bug world magnified. Personally, I like my bugs outside, but little people seem fascinated by bugs.
Suggestions for Teens
BJ has wheel guards on his wheelchair and the design has been a great conversation starter for people we meet when we are out and about. Kids comment and think it is ‘cool.’ Wheel guards would make a great gift. They come in a variety of designs including abstract graphics for older kids.
For teens who love music there are CDs and iPods, but for a unique gift, why not have a personalised song written for them? I recently met the founder of Romance Outsourced (don’t let the name put you off, they do songs for birthdays and other occasions, not just Valentine’s Day) and I think this is a terrific gift idea for teenagers, or for anyone who is difficult to buy for and who also love their music.
I hope this proves helpful to parents and families searching for a special gift for someone with special needs.
Julie Jones is the creator of Have Wheelchair Will Travel (www.havewheelchairwilltravel.net) where she combines her skills as an ex travel consultant with her life and experiences as a Mom to her son BJ who has Cerebral Palsy.
More Gift Ideas
- 100 + “Mom Approved” Gifts for Kids with Special Needs
- 18 “Mom Approved” Gifts for Kids/Teens with Special Needs
- Holiday Gift Guide: Give Gifts That Fuel Creativity, Create Music and Challenge Your Child to Learn
- Special Resources: This Season Give the Gift of Knowledge
- Come Bearing Gifts and Wearing Them Too! Technology Ideas for Your Family and Friends
- Gift Guide from the Fitness Guy
- Gift Ideas for Those on Special Diets
This post originally appeared on our November/December 2014 Magazine