What to give to a child with a disability? What to give to a parent of this child? Should you ignore the disability and give generic toys, or should you give something that is helpful in some way but points to the ‘issues’ that the child or the adult lives with?
It really depends. Simply because a child is in a wheelchair or has a physical or mental health challenge, doesn’t mean they don’t want the latest Pokemon game or cool clothing that all the other kids are wearing. Yes, I think we all would like to get something practical for people. But remember, the little human before you is first and foremost just a child not a child with a disability.
I know of friends who give their children one toy (which can range from anything from a PlayStation 4 to a tickle-me-Elmo to Magic-The Gathering playing cards), and their other gifts are practical things they need, like a new winter coat, a repair kit for their wheelchair, or sensory friendly toys that help with their therapy. Sometimes you can kill the proverbial two birds with one stone and get a small tablet, where a (nonverbal) child can download learning games and apps that act as verbal assistive technology. If one can’t afford a tablet, a gift card to download apps or pay for in-app purchases make a terrific gift. Or maybe purchase one of the protective rims for the tablet, so it doesn’t break if the tablet goes flying off a desk, a table, or during a game.
One of the best gifts I ever bought for the boys were weighted blankets. I had heard about them for years. When my younger son was in OT they used to put sandbags on his legs to help with his concentration, but I had never added up that maybe as adults they could benefit from pressure therapy as well. I can’t tell you what a difference it makes.
The boys also love their noise canceling headphones, which in today’s age of everyone listening to music on their phones, doesn’t make them stand out at all when they walk around with them. Of course, in the case of my younger son he is actually listening to music, much to the distraction of the real world.