5 Gifts for the Special Needs Preschooler

Marj Hatzell
Big Kid
9

colored peg stackers
Tall Pegs Stacker
One of the dilemmas parents of kids with special needs face is how to find an appropriate gift for their child. Sure, they could pick something that every other kid plays with, but if your child doesn't know how to play with it, it's just going to sit there, untouched, for months. Or years, as in the case of one toy we purchased for our son. And the whole point of getting your kid a gift is so that they'll PLAY WITH IT, right? Or, it could just sit collecting dust on the shelf. Up to You.

Since many of our special kids have developmental delays of some sort, why not get them appropriate developmental toys? Or therapy toys? Things that are educational AND fun AND appropriate! Enter the Holiday Gift Guide for preschoolers with special needs!

Stacker Pegs and Pegboard, $13.35 from eSpecialNeeds

One of the best toys we've purchased for our sons and the longest lasting, this pegboard and pegs set teaches several skills. From fine motor control to sorting to counting and colors, this is one toy that covers a variety of areas, is washable (VERY IMPORTANT with special kids!), and is virtually indestructible. My little gremlin still chewed on the foam mat, however, so you do have to keep an eye on mouthy kids, but the pegs are large (read: he can't swallow them) so no worries there!


PS LOMSK Swivel Chair
PS LOMSK swivel chair, $79.99 at IKEA

Yes, I know it seems like a lot to spend on a toy. But when you have a kid who abso-smurfly despises opening Christmas presents and then has a birthday a mere two days later, you'll buy that kid one or two big gifts and that's it. Besides, this chair addresses several needs. It's a super-cool hideout (for kids who like it dark), it swivels (addressing their vestibular needs), and it's washable, in case your little spinner is a puker. Ahem.


tactile path
Tactile Path, $139 balance from Fun and Function

Do you have a kid that turns a knee wall into a balance beam? A dining room table into a runway? Climbs the walls like Spider-Man? Then you need a tactile path! This durable, plastic item is great for balance and gross motor, not to mention the fact that it is colorful and has texture. It can be set up in a variety of configurations (you can choose between curved or straight pieces) to keep it interesting. And? It's easy to clean. Did I mention that? You know, like washable? Not that it's huge problem in my house or anything. Just sayin'.

musical puzzle
Melissa and Doug Sound Puzzle
Melissa and Doug Sound Puzzles, $9 to $13 from Amazon

Our little guy is a puzzle-aholic, but even if your child only plays with them casually, these wooden sound puzzles are a great gift. They are stimulating and provide sensory feedback, are easy to grasp for those not-so-nimble little fingers, and have a variety of subjects, from vehicles to animals and everything in between. There are even textured versions of these very popular wooden puzzles. Just be sure they either have all the pieces in them every night or throw a blanket over them because nothing's more annoying at 2 a.m. than a sound puzzle being triggered by a bathroom light and scaring the dickens out of everyone, including the dogs. Unless it's FIVE sound puzzles being triggered by the bathroom light and scaring the dickens out of the dogs.

mini trampoline
Jumpsmart Trampoline
Jumpsmart mini trampoline, $79.99 from Target

Yes, I know I'm insane. And don't tell me how dangerous they are, trampolines are worth their weight in gold to some special kids. They NEED them. They CRAVE trampolines. Besides, jumping on these is better than, say, jumping on the couch or bed and falling off and hitting your face and knocking a tooth out and having to go to the ER. Not that it's happened to us (okay, it totally did). Besides, this thing is a blessing in the cold, winter months when we have four feet of snow on the ground (which, it turns out, doesn't stop him. He'll go out there anyway). And perhaps a mini trampoline will save the springs in your bed or couch? And he'll jump on the trampoline instead? Sometimes. Whether it's a full-sized outdoor trampoline or a mini trampoline in the basement, they address gross motor concerns and provide some proprioceptive input for kids who crave it. WIN!

What says you? What do you think are good gifts for kids with special needs?


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