Meta: Special needs kids also deserve thoughtful gifts. Read our detailed guide on the best gift ideas for special needs kids who don’t play with toys and factors to consider when shopping for the gifts.
Buying gifts for children with special needs can be daunting, especially if they don’t like toys. Often, ordinary toys are not fun or exciting. Fortunately, you don’t have to struggle to find the best gift ideas for special needs kids who don’t play with toys.
These ideas will delight your child whether they are creative artists or aspiring coders. Moreover, these gift ideas will teach them the basis of problem-solving, strategy, creativity, etc.
How We Chose Our Ratings
We understand that getting a gift for a special needs child is complicated. The best part is that we researched to help you settle on the best gift that will be exciting, fun, and beneficial to a child abled differently.
We chose gifts with positive reviews from parents with special needs children.
Our ratings also looked at various factors like:
- Child’s ability to adapt
- Does the gift provide different ways to play?
- Will the gift promote inclusivity?
- Does the gift offer sensory stimulation?
- Does the gift address a child’s developmental goals?
- Will the child quickly outgrow the gift?
After answering these questions, we listed some of the best gift ideas for special needs kids who don’t play with toys.
The Best Gift Ideas for Special Needs Kids
Here are some top gift ideas for special needs children
Primary Lacing Beads
The primary lacing beads are an excellent gift idea for a child with fine motor skills. The set has 30 colorful beads and two laces. If your child needs help with shape recognition, color recognition, this would be an ideal gift.
Also, the beads help your child with counting and matching. The best part is that the beads come in a wooden box to keep your space organized.
Big Box of Sentence Building Game Learning Materials
The box comes with over 200 puzzle pieces with four new write on and wipe off parts. The pieces are color-coded to represent parts of speech, through which your child can comfortably construct sentences.
Your child can learn, recognize words, and understand where they need to be in a sentence. What’s more, the child can play other games while working on their fluency, punctuation, grammar, and sight word recognition.
The sentence building game is suitable for young and older children. You can find a user booklet that has suggestions on how to use this toy. Moreover, the game helps with motor skills.
Some special needs kids love and enjoy listening to music. The mini orchestra set is a fantastic way to introduce your child to music. You can use the gift for a child who’s six months and up. Moreover, the instrument has brightly colored sets with a handle that your child can quickly grab.
Your children will love the fact that each instrument produces different sounds which helps them explore various genres of music.
Percussion instruments are excellent for children with hearing impairments. Also, the tools can be engaging for children with various disabilities. For example, you could have the child stamp on tambourine or kick a ball on a string. Playing musical instruments help to desensitize your child to sudden noises.
Bounce Balls With Handles
Bounce balls are great for physical therapy, apart from being fun to bounce around. Each jump works out those little muscles. Also, the ball can help your child improve their stability and balance while he works to remain on the ball. The handles make it easy for the child to gather motoring skills.
Wooden Interlocking Blocks
The interlocking blocks provide extra support when stacked together. You can have the child balance on a gym ball as he stacks the blocks. Alternatively, you can have your child squat while creating something with the blocks; this will help improve their shoulder strength and core strength.
Special needs kids sometimes suffer from anxiety and have built up tension. Most of the time they have sensory avoidance issues. Fortunately, you can have your child overcome this by using sensory materials like modeling clay, kinetic sand, or play dough.
Sculpting provides a sense of relaxation, and you’ll notice that the child becomes calmer when working with the play dough.
Sensory swings are also an incredible gift idea. You can install them in a playroom, the attic, or in your basement. Your kids will love the hangs after a long day. Children who need a vestibular input, those irritable, or anxious will find the sensory droops a fantastic gift.
Sensory materials improve concentration, reduce thumb sucking, calm nerves, and decrease oral defensiveness.
Fidget toys are fantastic as your child can stretch them, tie them, roll them, squash them or suck on them to provide a sensory relief. These items also help to decrease anxiety and stress. Fidgets create movement, which alerts the brain.
Some kids need help to sustain their brain’s function. Fidgets are available in different sizes and shape. When the child touches and plays with the item, this sends signals to alert and awaken, which opens up communication from the body to the brain.
As a parent, you may have some concerns about the materials. Check to ensure that the material is latex, BPA, and Phthalates free. You can find a variety of fidget toys like fidget cubes, flippy chain fidget toy, monkey balls, and fidget bracelet that a child will enjoy.
Counting cookies are an ideal gift idea as they help a special needs child develop counting skills, gain motor skills, and assist with number recognition the cookies promote tactile stimulation. The cookies have a jar that you can use as storage.
Play on Crayons
Getting a grasp of a pencil or a pen can be challenging for children with special needs, you can get crayons for your child to draw with and recognize the various colors. If your child finds it hard to grasp the crayon, you can add a Lycra holder which keeps the crayon wrapped around your child’s hand.
Indoor Playground Membership
Instead of something tangible, you can opt for an indoor playground membership as a gift idea. You can get an affordable indoor playground with a monthly or annual membership fee. Google the areas available in your area to find one that will suit a special needs kid.
This is an incredible gift idea for children suffering from anxiety or ADHD. The child can release all that stored energy and get them the much-needed exercise.
Weighted blankets help with anger, anxiety, insomnia, and pain. These blankets provide deep touch pressure through hugs. Deep touch pressure increases the release of serotonin that plays a role in sleep, mode, brain development, and sensory processing.
Research shows that weighted blankets help improve focus in class and enhances a child’s attention span.
The best part is that you can customize them to your child’s preferred colors and size. Also, they come in specific weights to help your child adapt.
It’s essential to note that it takes time to buy a gift for a special needs child. However, the fulfillment of seeing the kid enjoy every minute playing and using it makes the effort worthwhile.
Here are some excellent tips to help you find the best gift ideas for special needs kids who don’t play with toys.
Understand the Delays that affect their Level of Play
Although each child’s ability levels and skills are unique, certain factors may affect their level of play. For example, a child with cognitive delays may find it challenging to function intellectually. Also, a child with motor delays finds it challenging to hold onto small objects.
Children with behavioral, social, and emotional delays have a problem interacting with the rest and translating social cues. You need to choose exciting, safe, and the appropriate gifts for a child with special needs.
Go Through a Wish List
When shopping for a child with special needs, consider going through a wish list. The list should have things you know would be fun for your child and items they want. As a friend, you can ask the child’s mum for a wish list; this will make your work easier.
Consider Including a Gift Receipt
If you’d rather avoid asking for a wish list or taking someone else’s suggestion, you can consider including a gift receipt in the box. Giving the parents this option allows them to buy what works for their individual needs child.
Buy a Gift Based on Ability and not only the child’s age
While most gift items have an age recommendation, children with special needs are different. You need to find gifts based on the child’s ability and not their age. If you’re unsure about what’s appropriate, you could seek the guardian’s or parent’s advice.
Choose a Gift that Promotes Social Skills
Certain children with special needs have delayed social skills. If this is the case, you need a practical, yet fun gift. Some games like what I should do now, socially speaking game, and Hidden Rules are excellent options to improve the child’s social skills. Children engaging in these games will help them enjoy their time and develop their social skills.
Opt for Sensory-Appropriate Presents
Taking a long ride with a special needs child can be overwhelming. Fortunately, a sensory gift can be a fantastic distraction. You can opt for a strobotop, fidget set, or a lunar light show. Also, calming gifts can help your child relax.
According to National Autism Resources, you can choose gifts like tranquil turtles, weighted blankets, and soothing volcano lamps as presents help soothe your child.
Go For Open Ended Gifts
Open-ended gifts are those that have no end, middle, or beginning. Your child can use them in different ways, something that gives them the creative freedom to manipulate them.
Forget About Gender
Avoid picking gender-specific items when thinking of the best gift ideas for special needs kids. If it’s a boy, you can allow him to play with cooking sets, and if it’s a girl, you can let her play with trains or construct something.
Research by the National Association for the Education of Young Children found that male-oriented play items elicited quality play among girls. You should ditch the misconception that specific toys are for girls and others for buys. Instead, observe the effects when you reverse the gifts to ensure that both genders benefit from the play materials.
Understand that Sometimes Less is more
As a parent, you want the best for your child. However, sometimes you may end up buying too any play items that do not help your child with sensory or motor skills. Also, too many toys can make your child move from one to another, something that can limit their opportunities and play.
Only opt for a minimal number of play items to make sure that each of them benefits your special needs kid in a specific way.
Explore the Outdoors
While getting various outdoor gifts is a fantastic idea, sometimes all you need is to go to the park and have fun. You can have your child play on the swings, kick a ball, or create a playhouse with the sand.
However, if you don’t have a nearby park, you can get outdoor gifts like a small pool, a playhouse, a shovel for digging and ride on toys.
Children with special needs go through different challenges like speech and language delays, motor skills delay, cognitive delays and more. When looking for gift ideas for special needs who don’t play with toys, find something that they will find fun and exciting. You can also opt for places they can go like classes, indoor memberships, or tickets to a show they’ll love.
With the above gift ideas, you can help reduce anxiety, stress and ensure that your child lives up to his or her potential.