Disclaimer: I am fully aware that this post is a little late in the season seeing as Chanukah has already come and gone and Christmas is less than two weeks away but I hope it’s still useful! And, yes, I’m aware that gifts are clearly not the reason for the season, but its a part of it and can pose its own obstacles which deserve addressing. OK, now that that’s out of the way, on to the good stuff…
I LOVE picking out gifts for people, like really, really, really, love it. I start shopping for birthdays and the following year’s Christmas on December 26th. In fact, our day-after-Christmas shopping expedition is one of my favorite traditions with my mom. It’s a marathon, many have tried to join us and not lasted the day. It’s ok, I don’t judge them for it. All year long I am on the lookout for the perfect gifts for this relative and that friend. I enjoy buying the gifts, wrapping them, giving them and seeing the person’s face when they open it. Ok, you get it, but really, is there a better feeling than giving happiness?
That said, this has posed a problem as Adelaide has regressed over the years. I mean, what in the world do you get a child that is immobile, non-verbal, and lately responds to very little? Adelaide doesn't know its Christmas, of course, so does it really matter? Well, it doesn’t to her but it does to her big brother and he is VERY observant. If he has more gifts than her he will notice and comment and make us feel like horrible parents for not gifting equally. But the child wants for nothing. Her closet is already full of toys we’ve been gifted over the years that she will likely never be able to play with. Not to mention the trunk of Jackson’s favorite old toys that I just can’t seem to part with yet. I’m her mother and can barely figure out what to get her, goodness help our friends and family!
Realizing that I am likely not the only person in this predicament, I’ve decided to put together some gift ideas and resources for special needs children:
First the basics:
Books: seriously, you can never have too many. Adelaide is read to everyday and while she may not mind listening to the same books over and over it frankly drives me a little bonkers. If you’re looking for something more unique, personalized books can add a special touch.
Clothes: probably most people’s go-to. I don’t think I’ve bought Adelaide clothes in several years and not just because I inherited my love of gift giving from my mother who is a gift obsessed grandma. No joke, Adelaide’s closet rivals my own in volume. PJ’s are also an excellent option because people don’t often think of them and lets be honest, many a Saturday has gone by where the Cervantes children do not leave their jammies. Try to go tag free for the sensory sensitive kiddos and steer clear of onesies for the g-tube cuties.
Accessories: be it hairbows, hats, gloves, sunglasses, this stuff is always fun AND always getting lost which means chances are that backups are needed. Also, cloth bibs for toddlers on up: drooling is a big side effect of many meds and it can be hard to find large enough bibs. For our tubies out there, g-tube covers can be a super cute gift. Worth noting that many of our developmentally delayed kiddos are oral explorers making chew toys an excellent option. Prior to Adelaide losing hand coordination EVERYTHING went in her mouth. Etsy is a great place to find all of these items.
The necessities: I have absolutely gift wrapped bath soap, toothbrushes, puff snacks (when she could eat them), and diapers. If gifting to a friend you could do a bath tub theme with a cute washcloth or towel with the soap.
For those looking for something more creative:
I recommend checking out the Ultimate Special Needs Shop on Amazon. They have curated a shockingly thorough list of items from indoor swings, to adaptive chairs, sensory toys and everything in between. The convenient thing about Amazon is that you can create a registry so when your family asks for ideas you just send the link. Through their list I found an awesome light projector that displays different moving scenes on the ceiling that I really think Adelaide will enjoy.
Outside the box:
Honestly, some of the items our kiddos need are expensive, absolutely necessary but insurance won’t cover them. Ugh! For example, we had to buy Adelaide’s bath chair out of pocket at a cool $400. A. Bath. Chair. What if instead of sending individual gifts, friends and family chipped in for the big item that your special needs child really needs. Family members get to feel like they are buying a physical gift and some of the financial burden is lifted off the caregivers.
Obviously, not all kiddos are as disabled as Adelaide and still LOVE to play with toys. Just check with the caregiver first to make sure you are gifting a developmentally appropriate toy. Are there sensory issues to be aware of: sounds, lights, scents? What toy-age does the caregiver recommend?
Your turn! What are your special needs gift ideas? Please share in the comments below! You know I’ll be on the lookout for next years gifts in less than two weeks…T-12 days to day-after-Christmas shopping! Happy holidays and happy gifting.
P.S. I’ll take wine, tequila and all the dark chocolate. Also, a cure for epilepsy if you have one laying around. Please and thank you.