Terrific Holiday Gifts for Kids With Special Needs

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Just Tell Me What to Buy!

Ellen at Love That Max, Colleen at Learning Expressions Blog, and Holly Robinson Peete with Toys R Us have created helpful toy guides for kids with special needs -- highly recommended, all.

Audio books are one of my favorite gifts for Leo and his friends, as listening to them is something our families can while spending all that time driving between home, school, and therapy appointments. I also love audio books for Leo because, honestly, we can't always accurately gauge his understanding or comprehension, and audiobooks give him the benefit of the doubt. They let him listen to stories without the pressure of having to "listen to Mommy" or process pictures in addition to sound. And -- bonus -- he can listen to favorite stories like Dr. Seuss and The Very Hungry Caterpillar, over and over and over again, and can even control playback himself if the stories are on his iPad, iPod touch, or other iDevice/player.

Some quirky kids like the Aspie teen Jacob from Jodi Picoult's novel House Rules can be more interested in tools than toys. Educational Innovations is my favorite site for gear- and science-minded kids, as their selection ranges from simple machines  to Jacob's beloved forensics kits.

Kids with autism are often drawn to Lego, which is not hard to find -- but did you know you can build your own custom Lego models? An opportunity to combine two obsessions!

Does the child use a wheelchair? So do these two dolls: Avatar's Jake Sully , and Barbie's Paralympic Champion friend Becky.

Would the kid enjoy a variety of activities? I am grateful to a local business, My Busy Kits, whose products appeal to all sorts of kids. Their kits are nearly bottomless, and include such goodies as laceboards, Wiki Stix, crayons & markers, tape measures (which make Leo especially happy), black velvet coloring pages (which provide a sensory guide to help Leo stay in the lines), plastic scissors, activity pads, and a blank spiral notebook. I have been complimented on how well my children behave when we're out at restaurants -- when the truth is, they are often too busy playing with their My Busy Kits to be disruptive.

Spreading a Little Joy to Other Kids With Special Needs

Sometimes, our kids really do have most everything they need. I often feel that way about my fortunate boy, and so ask people to donate to organizations or campaigns for kids with special needs who could use more support, in lieu of a gift. My suggestions (and feel free to make more suggestions in the comments):

More Information About Gifts for Our Kids

If you're interested in participating in a tweechat about gifts for children with disabilities:

The American Physical Therapy Association's Move Forward campaign is hosting a December 8 #MovePT tweetchat from 4:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m ET.  The HollyRod Foundation, founded by Holly Robinson Peete, will moderate the chat. The chat will open the discussion on toys that help children with disabilities develop problem-solving, physical and communication skills.  A physical therapist will be on hand via @MoveForwardPT to answer questions.

To join the Tweetchat, visit tweetchat.com/room/MovePT, login to Twitter and follow the hashtag #MovePT.


So, those are my strategies; now it's your turn. What have I missed? What are your ideas? Please leave a comment and let us all know!

Shannon Des Roches Rosa spends the holidays bouncing between joy and trepidation. She blogs that annual spectrum of emotions at www.Squidalicious.com.


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