It’s that time of year again…holiday shopping season is upon us! It can be hard enough coming up with the right gift for the children in your life when you consider what’s popular, what their friends are getting, and what won’t break the bank. But for those contemplating gifts for kids with special needs, it gets even tougher. Here are a few tips and a special offer that I hope will help:
- Forget age-appropriateness and think skill-building. With kids with certain special needs, age levels proposed by toy companies go out the window. Think about the skills your child is working on in therapy or at school and focus on finding toys/games that challenge those same skills.
- If the child in your life has fine motor and/or sensory integration challenges, steer clear of dry-erase! As tempting as it seems to be able to re-use coloring or activity books, the slippery nature of dry-erase provides very little physical feedback which makes skill building difficult. Opt instead for chalkboards or crayon activities. Bonus tip: For a cheap, year-round DIY approach to coloring/writing, buy some sandpaper and lay worksheets over it to increase feedback.
- Wii – need I say more? Granted, they’re expensive but for those looking to splurge, Wii is a fabulous, multi-tasking developmental tool. As with toys, choose Wii games that challenge the areas being addressed in the child’s life already.
From now through the holidays, email Rebecca any time with specific holiday shopping, toy selection questions about the children in your life and get an answer within 48 hours guaranteed! firstname.lastname@example.org
A couple of examples:
1. Floor puzzles: Its well known that kids love puzzles and that they provide a healthy challenge. What many people don’t think of are floor puzzles. These puzzles have oversized pieces that are usually a bit hardier than table-top puzzle pieces. They are several feet across and are meant to be assembled on the floor. This is great for kids working on gross motor coordination, reaching, crossing midline, and of course they still incorporate the visual-perceptual demands of any puzzle. Make floor puzzles part of family game time or have the kids work together on it while you plan your Thanksgiving feast!
2. Ball pits: A lot of moms are familiar with ball pits found at indoor play gyms. But its easy to put one in your own home! All you need is an inflatable swimming pool (and now’s a great time of year to find them on sale!) and a bunch of plastic balls. This is a fantastic, multi-tasking addition to any playroom. Children with certain sensory integration issues benefit from the sensation of crawling through the balls and they certainly encourage “grasp and release” patterns – you moms know this as THROWING! Hide your kids’ outfit or shoes in the balls and challenge them to find all the items and get dressed within a certain number of minutes to win a prize – hide the prize in the balls too!
Rebecca Shmukler is the owner and founder of Dynamic Therapy, a pediatric therapy company providing PT, OT, and Speech Therapy services to children and their families throughout the North Dallas area. Rebecca is an OT herself, but most importantly, she is mommy to handsome, hilarious, 19-month-old Benjamin. Contact information: www.DynamicTherapy.net, Rebecca@dynamictherapy.net, 214.566.2687 214.566.2687 214.566.2687 214.566.2687