Whether it’s for a birthday party or a holiday celebration, choosing a suitable gift for the person you love can be quite a challenge. If that person happens to have special needs, there are many important considerations to keep in mind. Children with physical, neurobehavioral, emotional, or learning disabilities often have innate limitations that prevent them from fully processing sensory information. All the same, they deserve presents that will enable them to develop their unique abilities, emancipate themselves, and be happy! The following guide should provide you with some useful pointers to find the right gift for special needs kids.
Know What They’re Dealing With
The term “special needs” often leads to confusion for the uninitiated. In essence, any condition or disability that hinders a child’s proper physical, emotional, or educational development qualifies as a special need, whether they need a wheelchair, therapy, or extra help in school. As such, it’s important to know exactly what the person is struggling with to get them an appropriate and useful gift. Obviously, a pair of rollerblades for a paraplegic kid or an encyclopedia for a dyslexic pupil are considered unsavory choices.
Focus on Their Interests
Once you understand their condition, you must determine what the child loves. Are they sports or music fans? Do they like to read, solve puzzles, or build a collection? Incorporating preferences and interests into playtime can help those with special needs, notably autistic children. As such, finding the perfect gift will require that you tap into their individuality and select an item or toy you know they’ll enjoy. Make sure that you have an idea of what the kid is interested in, and conduct some specialized research to gather inspiration.
Mind Their Age
Speaking of which, factoring in the child’s age will also allow you to select a fitting gift. Simply because they advance through life with a handicap doesn’t mean they’re not advancing; by all means, leave juvenile toys like dolls and action figures for the toddlers who actually enjoy them. The idea is to cater to their personal interests with something original that is also appropriate for their age.
Encourage Personal and Cognitive Development
Certain gifts can give special needs kids a perfect opportunity to encourage their own development. To that end, it’s imperative to bear in mind what the child actually can do, and offer a way for them to develop life skills. A young person with mild to severe autism, for instance, typically has limited interests; use that chance to give them something new that might spark a new passion and a thirst for knowledge in them. They’ll be able to develop their focus, thinking, coordination, and problem-solving skills, amongst other things.
Promote Interactions with Others
Another fundamental aspect of the selection process is choosing a gift that promotes interacting with others. Regardless of their disability, every child needs to develop strong communication and group work abilities; card or family board games can be an excellent way to encourage the child to break out of their shell, exchange with their entourage, and interact with their surroundings. For that reason, most electronic games that promote isolation should be off the table.
Naturally, safety is a major concern for parents and adults looking for suitable gifts. One the one hand, the present in question should not induce unwanted behaviors caused by triggers such as loud noises, phobias, etc. If a child is prone to violence or aggression towards others, a gift with violent content is not a fitting choice, as the exposure may impact them negatively. On the other hand, kids who tend to eat non-food items shouldn’t be gifted things with small objects to avoid instances of choking.
Ask Input from the Parents
If you’re still unsure, a surefire way to pick the ideal gift is to ask for recommendations from the child’s parents or adult entourage. They’ll tell you about what their kid enjoys the most, what they need, and what to steer clear from. That way, there will be less risk of choosing something inappropriate or downright worthless.
It’s fair to assume that all kids love receiving gifts for a special occasion, or just for the fun of it. For those with special needs, regardless of their condition, some extra attention and consideration will be required to select a present that will overjoy them and enable them to develop their abilities while having fun. Don’t hesitate to scour the web to find specialized guides and gather inspiration; you’re about to make a child very happy!