Gift Ideas For Kids With Special Needs

Gift Ideas For Kids With Special Needs


The Problem


Do you like to buy gifts? Sometimes I really struggle with gifts. I have people in my life who are very difficult to buy for, and people who are very easy to buy for. And for our children here in the clinic, gift buying can be very challenging. Do we get them an age-appropriate gift? Or do we get them a developmentally appropriate gift? If we get them a developmentally appropriate gift do we risk the parent thinking that the gift is too immature for the child? 

Some of our kids with more severe disorders might be nine years old chronologically, but they might be five years old developmentally. This is exactly why gift-giving presents such a challenge.


Reach Out To The Child’s Family


I suggest that if you want to buy a gift you reach out to a family member and ask about what that child really loves. That way you can use that information to buy a gift that’s appropriate for that kiddo. 


Give Gift Cards


When in doubt, gift cards are great! Sometimes it’s great for the child to go to Target or Walmart or the Build a Bear store and be able to get what they want! This way you take yourself out of that awkward position of having to find something for them. Plus, any give day my friends here at the clinic change what they like, so a gift card allows flexibility.


Sensory-Friendly Toys


There are some great websites out there that sell sensory-friendly toys, as well as toys for kids with disabilities. You can do a search for these on the internet and you’ll find several suggestions. If you’re not sure about a toy send the parent a link to the toy you’re considering and ask them what they think. 

In general, with this population, the best thing to do is to check with the parent, unless you know the child very well and really know what they’ll like. 


Opt For a Donation Instead


Another thing to think about when it comes to gifts is that many of our kids don’t like the idea of gifts. Parents get excited about gifts and a big party, but many of our kids don’t like being the center of attention. Often the whole process of opening gifts is very overwhelming. I know parents who do parties with no gifts at all. I know other parents who do parties and have guests make a donation in lieu of a gift. If you are planning a party and your child has limited interest in gifts, just know that you don’t have to have them. 

In fact, although we as parents often love these large events, often these big parties are too overwhelming for our kids. You don’t even have to have a party if it will be too much for your child to handle! 


Consider Opening Gifts In Private


If you are planning a party where you will have gifts, think about whether your child will open the gifts at the party or not. If you’re not going to have gifts opened at the party, let the parents of the children bringing gifts know ahead of time that the gifts will be opened later, so that their kids aren’t disappointed. 




There’s no particular way to deal with gifts. I’ve given you some of the experiences I’ve had, but you will have to see what works best for your family, and the families around you. But remember these tips: 

  • When in doubt, gift cards work well
  • Maybe gifts aren’t necessary
  • Check with the parent to make sure the gift will be appropriate and well-received

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