What do you get a child with special needs? A child that might be immobile, have vision or hearing issues, epilepsy, developmental delays, and physical hardships? The answer is not a one size fits all, and can be equally as hard for parents to think of things to engage their child, as it is for friends and family members who know even less about what that child may really need.
So in the spirit of the holidays, I’ve put together a list of some items that might work for the special needs child in your life! Although the season is not about the gifts, even children who may not engage with Christmas the same way as an average child, deserve to get the same jolly experience!
You can never go wrong with the basics, like new outfits for a child. Kids grow fast and Madison grows out of half her outfits after one wear, no joke. Make sure to ask mom or dad what size baby is wearing and buy accordingly! Keep in mind upcoming seasons and if the child requires any special considerations when it comes to clothing. Madison for example, runs cold, so in the winter she needs more sweatshirts and warm tops vs. basic long sleeve tees. She’s also in therapy most days, so outfits that are comfy and less restricting are perfect for her.
Is the child you’re shopping for tube fed? There are specialty clothes out there for kids with tubes that make connecting, disconnecting, and setting up feeds a breeze while keeping them concealed within the child’s clothes. When Madison was tube fed I can’t tell you how annoying it was to find clothes that worked, because you needed to be able to easily access the g tube and allow the tubing to lay comfortably. Zippered one piece jammies for example did NOT work. Click here for an extensive list of shops that sell tube feeding friendly outfits! Amazon or specialty shops on Etsy also sell outfits that mom, dad, and baby will love.
Books are also an easy go-to gift for little ones of all ages. A child can never have too many books in my opinion. Everything from sensory board books to interactive books that talk and light up are all great ways for a child to learn new things about the world around them. Even if the child can’t interact back just yet, there are no negatives to reading to your kids!
Hats, hair bows, socks, bibs, blankets; all fun little items or stocking stuffers that, lets face it, are easily lost or destroyed at home and might require some back ups! (The amount of Madison’s hair bows that have ended up in Lincoln’s mouth is ridiculous lol). They also make gtube covers for tube fed kids that can be a thoughtful gift idea if its something the child uses.
Madison is globally delayed like many special needs children, so she doesn’t really interact with age appropriate toys just yet. However, that doesn’t stop us from using a plethora of items during therapy sessions and play time. Specifically items that light up, are high contrast (black and white), play music, vibrate or move, and are easy to grab work great for kids that need that extra sensory input. Please keep in mind however that if the child has epilepsy, lights could be a seizure trigger and to always check with mom or dad on whether the gift is appropriate!
Raising a special needs child isn’t cheap. Many of the items a child requires are expensive and sadly only some things are covered by insurance. Some families pay out of pocket for nearly everything their child needs to survive and requires in order to live their best quality of life. Instead of little gifts that really may not be necessary, ask the child’s care givers if there are any big ticket items they are looking to purchase. Grab a few family members and chip in to purchase a stander, feeding or bath chair, wheelchair, etc.. These types of items can be crucial to a child’s development and if a family is at that point in time where they’re ready to make the purchase, lessening that financial burden can be a huge help!
I’m a total sucker for all things personalized! Check out Etsy or websites like Personal Creations or Personalization Mall and grab something cute and personalized for the child’s room! A stuffed animal with their name, monogrammed outfit, or decorative wall art with an inspirational quote that suits that child’s specific journey are all super thoughtful and unique!
Amazon has an extensive list of items curated especially for special needs children that can be an excellent tool during the holiday season too! Check it out here.
For the care givers
Also need ideas for mom or dad of a special needs child? Their days are likely exhausting, and while of course they could use a few days away, that’s typically not in the cards for them. It can be extremely hard, if not impossible, to leave a special needs child with someone for more than a few hours, but that doesn’t mean mom and dad don’t need some time to themselves!
- Restaurant gift cards: These are perfect because if mom and dad are in a situation where they can step out for date night for a few hours, wonderful! And if not, ordering in and having the night off from cooking can be just as valuable. I can’t tell you how many times I’m completely beat from traveling to therapy and appointments all day. Or time gets away from me because Madison was having an off day and I spent every hour trying to get her to eat or drink something. Ordering dinner in can be a lifesaver some nights!
- Spa/Self Care: Book an hour massage or facial or give a gift card to a salon where mom and dad can relax for an hour. Does mom get her nails done? (Or did she in her previous life before appointments took over?) Does dad like to work out? Gift cards to the local nail salon or gym can be great too.
- Wine/Beer: do I even need to explain this one? What parent doesn’t need a glass of wine after a long day.
- Family photoshoot: it can be almost impossible to get good photos or schedule a family photoshoot when your days are packed with therapists and doctors or when your days revolve around a child that sleeps often or has a difficult schedule. But offering a gift card to a local photographer can be an awesome way to give mom and dad that push to go & get those photos of their beautiful family that they so deserve. Spending $300 on a photoshoot can be out of the question for a family who needs to put every penny behind medications, treatments, hospital bills, and more for their child, but gifting them a family portrait is something they can enjoy for years to come and might not have been able to do without some help!
Do you have special needs gift ideas? Anything your child has received outside of the box that they just loved? I’d love to hear from you! Happy gifting! Happy Holidays! And remember, it might be the season of giving, but spending quality time with your loved ones is far more special than any gift will ever be!