The holidays are here, and it’s the time of year when parents are scrambling to find the perfect gift for their little ones. Finding a present that a child will appreciate and enjoy can be quite a struggle, and it’s even more of a challenge if a child has special needs. Fortunately, there are a lot of new products out there that are age-appropriate and fit for different levels of ability. If you need to find a gift for a child with special needs, here are some basic guidelines to make the right pick.
Choose toys that can boost a child’s self-worth
For a child with a disability, it’s important that there is inclusivity and representation in play to develop their self-esteem, and gender-neutral toys are a good way to achieve this. An example of a plaything that encourages inclusive play is a doll. Not only is it a good, gender-neutral toy, but certain dolls allow children to process their own experiences in a positive and healthy way. Children who use a wheelchair may like the Barbie Fashionista Doll #132, which comes with a wheelchair, or the Marvel Education Friends With Diverse Abilities Figure Set. Those who love to build things out of blocks may love the Lego City Set that comes with figures that use wheelchairs, as well as an accessible bus. For children who are hard of hearing, Build A Bear offers accessories such as hearing aids for existing dolls and stuffed animals, while the Lottie Doll Wildlife Photographer Doll comes with a cochlear implant.
“The best toys for kids with special needs are ones that give them a positive and enjoyable play experience, whether they’re playing by themselves or with a friend.”
Look for toys that offer sensory stimulation
Kids with autism spectrum disorder often enjoy simple toys that offer sensory stimulation, such as puzzles, blocks, and modeling clay sets. When choosing a gift for a child with autism, avoid anything that can cause overstimulation, such as toys with a lot of moving parts or flashing lights. Instead of a remote-controlled car, opt for a simple train set that they can take apart and push on the tracks, or give them hand-painted wooden toy cars. For tactile stimulation, there are Play-Doh sets, or for a non-sticky alternative, there’s Educational Insights Playfoam Go, which is a type of modeling foam that can be molded into any shape or form. For a fun stocking stuffer, bubbles are always a hit, as well as small stuffed dolls.
The best toys for kids with special needs are ones that give them a positive and enjoyable play experience, whether they’re playing by themselves or with a friend. Consider these tips to choose the perfect gift and make the playtime even more special for the little ones.
This article was written by guest contributor Karoline Gore.