The holidays can look a little different for families when someone they love is a part of the special needs community, children especially. I see this first-hand because my son is part of that community. Holidays, like Christmas, are filled with a lot of fun and excitement for kids. There are endless Christmas events: light shows, musicals, and of course the many gifts. Chances are, finding a gift for most children isn’t too hard, but when a child has special needs or a disability, the latest and greatest toy may not be something they can use or even want.
I recently came across a great list of recommendations to have a very special needs Christmas which highlighted something I often preach when talking about awareness: EVERY CHILD IS DIFFERENT. Even within the same diagnosis, no two cases or two children are the same. Items that work for some, may not work for others, so I will try to give a variety of suggestions that can be beneficial to all needs.
Note: these suggestions are based on my personal experience and research. Please consult with doctors, therapists, or other members of the child’s care team to make sure these items will not harm their individual progress or care.
- There are several types of chewing items that make great stocking stuffers for anyone with an oral fixation. We have bought from ARK therapeutic products, but they are also available on Amazon.
- These vibrating oral stimulation kits are also helpful and come in a wide variety of attachments.
Clothing with easy access to feeding tubes comes in handy, especially for very young children and children heavily dependent on feeding tubes. These clothing items have a little door around the tummy area to allow easy access. Adaptive clothing is also made for anyone who struggles with dressing; the use of velcro closures and loops make dressing easier. There are also higher back and adjustable options for anyone needing the use of wheelchairs.
Bonus Items For Tube-Fed Children:
There are several other items that are helpful for tube-fed children. There are tube pads, connector covers, pump backpacks and holders, etc. I’ve purchased several styles of tube pads, but have found Adorabelly Design on Etsy to work best for us. We prefer the circle ones, but they have so many cute designs:
There are many styles of shoes available for anyone needing orthotics, such as SMO or AFO braces. I have found BILLY brand shoes are the easiest to use because of the zipper around the top of the shoe. These are great for a child without braces as well. (Tip: remove the insole to give leg braces a little more room in the shoe.) They come in many patterns and styles. I have noticed the most options on the company’s official site.
Toys, Toys, And More Toys:
There seem to be more and more sensory toys becoming available, which is great! With more types of toys — fidgets, learning, musical, texture, etc. — on the market, prices range from cheaper to more expensive.
An endless amount of supplies is needed for care on a day-to-day basis. These can make great gifts.
- Diapers and wipes: You can never get enough, right? As children get bigger and still require the use of diapers, the cost can become pretty high. It may not be the most fun gift, but it is certainly handy and helpful.
- Backpacks for feeding pumps: There are several backpacks that hold feeding pumps. I have never had the greatest luck with them, but for anyone that uses an Infinity pump, I HIGHLY recommend this pump holder by Quirky Dad! Trust me; it will be a gift for everyone! They have so many cute patterns (we have the fishing pattern, second from the left in the picture below).
Adaptive Holding Supplies:
When fine motor skills are not strong, holding small objects can be difficult. Thankfully, there are many objects which can help with eating, carrying things, and much more.
For someone who is non-verbal, there are several expensive and budget-friendly options for communication assistance, such as recordable buttons. We have used the second button option in our speech therapy and it worked pretty well.
Things like weighted items and headphones are very helpful for anyone needing that kind of sensory support.
Speaking from experience, unfortunately, equipment can become very expensive. If you are shopping for a family you really want to bless this season, and have the ability to do so, finding a piece of equipment they need is an amazing gift. There is a wide variety of equipment that can help the family of a special needs child: bath seats, supportive swings, and jungle gym therapy equipment are some examples.
We have found much of our needed equipment from FireFly, which makes a wide range of adaptive equipment for different needs and sizes.
Our family loves the non-tangible gift and often request no toys. Taking our son to fun experiences is something we really enjoy! Check out this Knoxville Moms post for suggestions.
The future is often a stressor for families of the special needs community. Depending on the severity of the disability, the future can be pretty scary. Setting aside funds in an investment account or savings account can certainly take some pressure off the what ifs of the future.