Honestly, every year I dread Christmas shopping for my son. I never know what’s really going to click for him unless it involves music, a costume or a super hero. Finding suitable Christmas toys for kids with special needs takes a little more thought and time it might for so-called neurotypical kids. Several factors should be considered to ensure that you choose the most appropriate toys for your child. You’ll want to consider his or her personality traits, sensory issues and coping mechanisms. Can the toy assist in development? And most importantly, will your child actually want to play with it?
When it comes to sensory stimulation, children with special needs fall into 2 distinct categories. Some will completely enjoy sensory products while others might shy away from them. Whatever side your child falls in, sensory toys would make a great buy as they offer the benefit of being both a source of enjoyment as well as an excellent tool for introducing sensations in a low-key way that does not trigger outbursts.
Sensory toys come in a wide range of options with products for touch. There are also sensory toys that offer sensory information to muscles and joints (e.g. trampoline, vibration, and spinning toys). The key to giving your child the full sensory experience is to mix things up by buying different sensory toys. You know your child best. Be sure to avoid toys with sensory inputs your child dislikes.
Social Skills Development
Simple, traditional games are a natural, budget friendly way to improve communications and social skills development.
One of the biggest challenges that children with special needs face is impaired social skills. This can lead to frustration when they find themselves unable to interact in social situations at school or in the neighborhood. Socially interactive toys such as board games, language development play sets, and cause-and-effect toys make a great play and educational tool for children with special needs. Such toys teach essential social skills such as cooperation, sustaining a conversation, and so on while also helping them to develop good coping mechanisms when interacting with others.
Motivation to Improve Motor Skills
Another area where children with special needs struggle with is performing motor skills where precise movement of muscles is required to perform a specific task. Toys that promote motor skills can greatly improve their motor skills and their ability to participate in life. There are many options for toys that will improve motor skills. Be realistic about what your child’s present level of functioning is so he or she doesn’t get frustrated. For instance, options such as LEGOS, art & craft toys, and board games with small pieces would make an ideal toy for children with special needs who struggle with tasks that involve the use of hands and fingers. Improvement of the core and gross motor skills will also impact fine motor skills.
Rebounder/trampoline – I suggested this one as it can do double duty for mom as well!
Will They Like It?
We want to see our kids improve and succeed, but we should also remember toys are meant to be fun. And since you know your child best, go for toys that encourage their passions. Whatever his or her interest might be, shopping according to their likes helps to ensure that they actually enjoy the toys. It also helps the child to feel supported and understood which can be great for developing self confidence and communication.
Due to their hypersensitivity, choosing toys for children with special needs can be a challenge. However if you take into account your child’s personality, the things that set him/her off, and keep the above suggestions in mind, you should be able to come up with some gift ideas that your child will love.
What Does My Son Like?
My son’s mantra could easily be Always Be Batman. If your child loves superheroes, there are t-shirts, bedding, action figures, DVDs and more.
And then there is the iPad Mini. An iPad is a great investment for any special needs family. There are tons of developmental and communication apps which are generally pretty inexpensive. My son loves to listen to his music on his.
Fitness for Moms
It’s all too easy to become so consumed with our kids’ needs that we forget our own wellness. For many of us, gym memberships are not very practical. Here’s a few ideas to help stay fit at home:
Healthy Moving Membership – I love this program. It’s like having your own private studio, ready when you are. Totally mom friendly!
Top Christmas Toys for Kids: 2016 Edition
I picked these out as a possibility for children with special needs, but you’ll need to determine if they’re a good fit or not. But chances are you have other kids that you’re shopping for.
Pokemon My Friend Pikachu – Kids can cuddle up with My Friend Pikachu, a 10-inch high plush toy with an adorable face. Pikachu has some cool sound and light effects that will captivate your Pokemon fan. Recommended for kids aged 4 and above, it only weighs about 11.2 ounces, measures 8-inches from base to head, two more inches up to the ears and about 5.5-inches wide. The size is decent for young hands and kids will have no trouble picking up this lightweight plush toy.
Snuggles My Dream Puppy – will be enough to capture anyone’s attention. This stuffed puppy is simply adorable to look at. The talented designers at Moose Toys made it to look and act (to some extent) like a real pup.
Much like other stuffed toys from the Little Live Pets line, Snuggles reacts to certain actions initiated by the user. Kids will love to pet and play with Snuggles thanks to his animated functions.
Fisher-Price Laugh and Learn Crawl-Around Learning Centre – If you are a mother searching for a fun toy that can help your crawling baby learn and develop, look no further than the Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn Crawl-Around Learning Centre. Toddlers will have a blast playing with this toy, which gives them plenty of hands on play activities that incorporate the use of sounds, songs, tunes and phrases. If this item sounds like a good toy for your little one, learn more about it by reading this Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn Crawl-Around Learning Centre review.
Barbie Stem Kit – The Barbie STEM kit is a wonderful way for children to experiment with Science, Technology, Engineering and Math all in one kit. It could be a great tool to help girls get interested in STEM. It shows Barbie and Nikki stuck in situations where they have to use logic, science, and smarts to solve problems. The learning process through this kit is very encouraging since it explains how different types of mechanisms work for different models. The various concepts of a building are not applicable to all models, so children get to think what they are doing, how they are going to do it, and how one modeling structure differs from another. Science couldn’t have been more fun than this STEM kit.
The VTech Go! Go! Smart Friends Enchanted Princess Palace is the perfect toy for kids aged 18 months to 5 years. It is designed to open up their imagination, develop motor skills and give them hours and hours of fun playtime. The Enchanted Princess Palace is a good buy recommended for 18 months to 5 years old kids and probably more suited to the little girls in your life.
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