Do you ever struggle for ideas for what to buy your child with special needs? I always get excited about it, so I have compiled a list of ideas of things to buy children with special needs.
My son is unable to explore on his own so giving him experiences that are accessible and fun for him is so important to me. Our children learn through play and using their senses, if one sense is lacking it doesn't mean the other senses can't be encouraged.
We have an extensive range of soft and hard animals of all shapes and sizes. These can be used for all types of play. Story sacks, messy play or role play. Finger puppets are great if you lack space. Touching the different textures are great to encourage the sense of touch.
Musical toys are great for entertaining. Things that can be pressed by a child or by an adult are great fun. Our favourites at the moment are a quacking duck, a farting monkey and a care bear that sings!
Check out this Farting Monkey
Musical instruments are always a winner in our house. we have an extensive range of plastic and wooden musical instruments. Music is a great calming tool in our house. Chimes on a stand are great and height adjustable. A wooden frog and double agogo are in this years present bag.
Check out these Tone Deaf Wind Chimes
You can never have too many books!! Even though our children may not understand the story or some may not be able to see the pictures it's incredibly important to read to children to encourage communication. Children learn by the sounds and rythmn they hear. There are so many lovely books to choose from.
The works has 10 books for £10 online giving you a wide range of books to choose from. I have been able to create some more sensory stories from books I have found here including I want a cuddle and teddy bears picnic. Check them out here.
Story sacks: sensory stories
Once you've got the books this is the fun bit! Choosing toys that will fit into your books. We have lots of story sacks now and we will be adding to some at Christmas this year.
Finger puppets, hard toys or soft toys are great for this. Story sacks help to bring stories to life. If a child can touch and feel the objects, animals or people in the story it will help engage them for longer.
We have done the following story sacks:
The best nest - we've used finger puppets
Hugless Douglas - big bear from Ikea and we handmade trees and leaves
Owl babies - decorated spoons
Dear zoo - a mixture of soft and hard animals
A squash and a squeeze - mixture of animals
Old MacDonald - soft toys
Messy play is so good for our children to increase fine and gross motor skills. Using hands to explore and feel different textures encourages lots of movement for joints and increasing muscles. You can use feet or hands to explore, edible or non edible. Hours of fun have been had in our house exploring shaving foam, baby lotion, jelly, baked beans, pasta, sand, flour the list goes on!
It may seem weird buying your child jelly, shaving foam and Cornflour as a present but I assure you it will provide no end of fun!
Playdough is great and can be bought or made at home. Aqua beads are great for sensory play very calming and therapeutic. Gelli baff is also fun to squidge in between little fingers.
Check out these Jelly Crystal Beads
There are lots of lovely wooden objects that our children can explore. Playing with pine cones, leaves or shells provide a more natural learning for children than plastic toys can't provide. To put the things you collect in, these sensory tubes are amazing:
Check out these Sensory Tubes
There are lots of lovely wooden objects to touch and explore such as wooden spoons, brushes, curtain rings, egg cups etc. Creating a sensory basket would give lots of hours of fun. Here's a link to some decent priced baskets or why not collect bits to make your own. Treasure basket.
We love Tac Pac!! Tacpac is a sensory program which combines using objects in time with music. You use the items listed and move them over the childs body. It seems very strange using chop sticks, a scourer and a chamois leather on my child but once combined with the music it really is a lovely session. It relaxes Ethan and more importantly he laughs his head off! Head over to here for more information: www.tacpac.co.uk
Anything that lights up is usually a winner! Hand held, self operated or works on its own it doesn't matter. Bubbles tubes are great, fairy lights, flashing swords and balls the list is endless.
We have a light box which is great for exploring shapes and objects.
Uv toys are lamps are good to explore something different.
Why not spoil your special little person with a day pass to feed some animals or a trip to the sea life centre. Make sure this is an open ended ticket as our children are so unpredictable anything could happen.
We are always fundraising for something bigger than a normal size present why not help towards something that will make a real difference in the child's life.
Switch Adapted Toys
For those that have some movement switch toys are great. They can be activated by hands, feet knees or even heads.
The reward for pressing the switch is a toy the child will absolutely Love!
Switches come in all shapes and sizes for all abilities. They also range in sensitivity too. Some need less pressure to turn on and some need more.
The best present we ever bought Ethan was a tough tray and a stand. We use it all the time for every type of play this is definitely my top buy for Ethan and would recommend it for anyone!! Pinterest is great for ideas of how to use it!
I hope I have inspired you in the world of gifts for children with special needs. I really think it's important our children still enjoy life as children. Please remember every child is different so this may not work for every child.