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Shopping for the Special Needs Child

We are blessed that Ben's grandparents and aunt are always on top of his developmental level and interests.

We are blessed that Ben’s grandparents and aunt are always on top of his developmental level and interests.

Christmas shopping…ahhh…the shopping.  I just love it.  Not so much the buying, but the shopping.  As the parents of five children, our dates are pretty limited in this phase of our lives.  But Christmas shopping, now that’s a guaranteed date at least once a year.

It’s such a fun time, searching for the perfect gifts for those you love and imagining the joy the kids will have with their treasure, not to mention seeing the twinkle in their eyes in that moment just before they rip it open, and if you’re the parent of a special needs child, standing guard ready to distract the child with an old favorite.  Why?  Simple, not all gifts are appropriate.

Christmas & birthdays are an exciting time for any child.  Let’s face it, kids and presents were just made for one another.  But for the shopper, it can be difficult.  Realizing that a child who may be chronologically 5 years old may only developmentally be 3 or 4 can cause some confusion for the gift giver.  But it doesn’t have to be this way.  All you have to do is ask.  Ask the parents. Ask the teachers.  Ask the therapists.  Just ask.

As parents, we are always more than happy to share what are good gift ideas and what would be best to stay away from.  Understand, we are not telling you what to buy for our child, just giving direction on what would be most appropriate for him.  You wouldn’t give a 3-year old who likes to play with matchbox cars a model suitable for an adult to construct.  It’s just simple logic.  However, for a 5-year-old living with autism or any other developmental delay, a set of Legos geared for a 5-year-old can be just as daunting.

If you want things to be a complete surprise and therefore don’t want to ask the parents, check in with the school teacher or therapist.  There may be tools they use which may be helpful at home.  “Tools” may just be the perfect toy for a child!  You just wouldn’t believe how fun some of these tools are for kids.

Another option may just be an open heartfelt conversation with the parents about their needs.  You might find that they have been saving up for a tool disguised as a toy for the child, and your contribution could be what tops of the tank.

Bottom line, Christmas is one of the most magical times of the year, especially for children.  Putting a little extra effort into shopping can help provide the spectrum kids you love with their own perfect gift, and that will be a precious gift to their parents.

And now, I think it’s time for a little shopping…

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