The holiday season is upon us, and many of us are thinking about gift-giving for our loved ones. When buying gifts for children with disabilities or neurodiversity, it is important to consider their specific preferences and requirements, according to to our Founder Kym Gleeson and mother of a child to Frankie, who is neurodivergent, has additional needs and a rare genetic condition.
1. Ask the child’s parents or caregivers for suggestions if you need more clarification about an appropriate gift and enjoyment. There might not be any issues with selecting an age-appropriate gift or experience, the same as a neurotypical child. The parent or caregiver might also suggest asking the child directly what their Christmas Wishlist is.
2. Consider their interests. Like all children, those with disabilities or neurodiversity have their own interests. Consider what they enjoy – whether a specific hobby, character, or activity – and then choose a related gift.
3. Adapted toys. Look for toys designed for children with disabilities. Many toys are adapted with larger buttons, auditory or tactile feedback, or other sensory features that make them accessible to a broader range of children.
4. Sensory toys. Many neurodiverse children benefit from sensory stimulation. Different textures, colours, sounds, or vibrations can be engaging and therapeutic. Examples include fidget toys, textured balls, or sensory play mats.
5. Educational toys promote learning and creativity. Various educational games and puzzles are designed to enhance cognitive and fine motor skills. Look for toys that encourage problem-solving, imaginative play, and social interaction.
6. Communication devices. For children with communication differences, consider communication devices or software to help them express themselves. These devices can range from basic communication boards to advanced speech-generating devices tailored to their needs.
7. Interactive technology. Tablets and apps designed for children with disabilities can provide valuable learning experiences and entertainment. Look for apps that are specifically designed to enhance communication, fine motor skills, or sensory development.
8. Adaptive equipment. Consider adaptive equipment such as adaptive chairs, swings, or sensory rooms depending on the child’s specific needs. These items can provide both fun and therapeutic benefits.
9. Consider the child’s sensory sensitivities. Some children may have sensory sensitivities, so be mindful of the noise level, brightness, and texture of the toys you choose. Opt for soothing and not overwhelming items in terms of sensory input.
10. Gift experiences, Instead of physical toys, consider gifting experiences like tickets to sensory-friendly events, memberships to museums or sensory-friendly play spaces, or subscriptions to online platforms that offer educational content tailored to children with disabilities.
Remember, the most important thing is to show that you’ve put thought into the gift, considering the child’s individual needs and interests. Your consideration and effort will make the present truly special for both the child and their family. Sometimes, just offering support and help over the holidays is a gift in itself. The best things in life are free, after all.