With the holiday season fast approaching, shopping for gifts for kids is upon us. When you have a child with special needs, relatives and friends may not know the kind of gift they should get for him. The toys that a typically developing child would be able to handle or enjoy may not be the same for a developmentally challenged child. Yet, kids with challenges enjoy playing with toys just as much as their typically developing peers. What can you do?
Toys for developmentally delayed children
There are companies that offer product lines that cater specifically to kids with special needs. Toys may not be labeled with age ranges because a child with delays may enjoy a toy that is originally targeted for a younger child. If a company does label toys with age ranges, pick out a toy with an age range that corresponds to your child’s developmental age or adjusted age (if he is a preemie), not his chronological age. You have to remember that you need to look at your child as he is right now, and pick out a toy that suits his particular interests and abilities at this point in time. You don’t want your child feeling frustrated by not being able to play with a toy. Toys are meant to bring happiness, not frustration.
Companies may group toys by categories, such as toys that provide sensory stimulation, or those that are geared for kids with fine or gross motor issues, speech delays, etc. With a little online searching, you are bound to come up with lots of appropriate choices for your little one.
Shopping for the holidays…NOT!
Tis the season for shopping, but taking your child to the mall or busy stores may prove to be more tension building than it is worth. This is the time when catalogs and online shopping can be a lifesaver. When your tot is napping, with Daddy, or after he has gone to sleep, whip out the laptop or catalogs and let your fingers do the shopping. You can shop from the comfort of your home with your fuzzy slippers on. If you shop early enough, many companies offer free shipping. Sparing your child the intensity of hours at the mall could be the best gift you give to him AND to you!
Of course, there will be times when you want to take him to the mall, for holiday photos or just to witness the festivities. But, try to keep the visits short, so that your child does not get overloaded. You know your child best – you know the warning signs of when a fuse is about to blow. Heed the warnings early on, so that your fun does not end up becoming a fiasco.
Keep it to a low roar
The holidays are a time when a child can easily feel overwhelmed. Too many new toys and new items at one time can put your little one on stimulation overload. Even just the noise and activity of wrapping paper being ripped off and strewn about can create tension. Try to keep the excitement to a low roar so that your little one can absorb and enjoy the festivities without unnecessary stress.
With a little planning and extra vigilance, you can not only get through the holidays – you and your child can enjoy them!
Note: This post is part of the weekly series Delays and disabilities – how to get help for your child. It was started in January and appears every Wednesday. Archived blog posts can be found on News Moms Need under “Help for your child.” As always, we welcome your comments and input.
Have questions? Send them to AskUs@marchofdimes.org.