Amazing Toy List for Kids With Special Needs

Amazon; $14.61
As the holidays approach, the questions of what to buy everyone on your list are likely swirling non-stop in your head. Finding the perfect gifts for family and friends is one of the best parts of the seasons, but it can also be one of the most stressful. Sure, it's the thought that counts, but we also want people to like and use what we give them. So we can all use all the help we can get.

When it comes to children with special needs, like autism, Down syndrome, and cerebral palsy, the task can be even more challenging as you must take into account various limitations and needs. Fortunately, Ellen Seidman over at Love That Max has compiled an amazing holiday gift guide for kids with special needs.


From the age guidelines to feedback from both parents and children and even videos of the children playing with the toys, it's full of incredible, tested recommendations. If you have anyone with special needs on your list, it's a must-read. Even if you don't, there are some great toy suggestions that any child would love. Here are a few of the items on the list (under the Toys and Activities That Help With Fine-Motor Skills section) and the information she provides about each:

Large Farm Jumbo Knob Puzzle by Melissa & Doug (pictured above)

What it is: Farm characters on a wooden board with oversize, easy-to-grasp knobs

Reviewed by: Braden, 1, who has Down syndrome

"Braden was very interested in this and happy with it—he liked everything about it!" says his mom, Christine, of Blessed Again.

"We are working on finger activity, and it's great for his fine-motor skills. The size of the knobs helps so much. With other puzzles, he swats at them. But he manipulated the pieces very well! I loved watching his little fingers just mold themselves around the knob."

Twist & Drill
Amazon; $22.03

Little Hands Twist & Drill by Alex

What it is: A battery-operated, reversible drill that comes with 3 plastic drill bits and 28 chunky plastic nuts and bolts to build four cars

Reviewed by: Joey, 4, who has neurofibromatosis type 1 that's caused developmental delays

Although this drill will not enable your child to fix things around the house that your husband hasn't gotten around to, it has many other charms. "Joey loved that the drill worked and often repeated, 'Lefty loosey, righty tightie' as he tightened and loosened the bolts the toy came with," says his mom, Becky, of Just Another Blog. Kids who have more significant challenges with fine motor skills will need hand-over-hand help to hold the drill.

"Joey had to really pay attention to what he was doing to make the tools work correctly," continues Becky. "I think this toy is also helping Joey with language skills because after he puts the cars together he sets them on the couch and opens a store with his toy cash register. He will tell me the prices of all his cars—and tell me to take mine to the register!"

Tonka Truck

Tonka Roadway Rig Fire Rescue with "Road Closed Sign" by Tonka

What it is: A sturdy, large fire engine with flashing lights that pulls a trailer with an LED sign that flashes "Road Closed." Other road signs can be cut out of the package.

Reviewed by: Zach, 5, who has autism

"From an OT standpoint, trucks like this benefit Zach's fine motor skills as he has to push buttons and attach and separate the vehicle from the trailer," says his mom, Beth. "It benefited gross motor skills, too, as he navigated the truck through the house. We also used it with Matchbox cars and had to move them around since the road was 'closed.' In this way it also helped his play skills, which are a deficit, and helped us add new language to the repertoire. Zach loved the blinking sign the best—it's very attractive and life-like, and pretty cool. While very motivating, however, he also focused on it too much. We showed the truck to one of his therapists and she thought it was great from a motor-skills standpoint—and a great way to help him with play scenarios and language."

Imaginarium Cube
ToysRUs: $59.99

Imaginarium 5 Way Giant Bead Maze Cube by Imaginarium

What it is: A cube with 5 sides of fun including a magnetic dry-erase board with 4 magnets, an abacus, a tracking maze, and a xylophone with 2 mallets. The top has a bead maze with wooden animals and shapes.

Reviewed by: Julia, 2, who has cerebral palsy

"Julia would repeatedly point to the toy and say, 'I want to play with that!' and then say 'I want to trade'—meaning she wanted me to turn the cube around so she and her sister could play with different parts of it," says her mom, Amy, of Life, Interrupted. "I think it will definitely help with her grasping and reaching skills, both of which she is working on with her OT. She pushed the beads around the loop-de-loop. All the beads are chunky, and easy to grasp. She is particularly fond of the abacus and likes pushing beads to the other side.

"There is also a xylophone, and the cube has two wooden mallets for playing it—good for grasping and problem-solving skills. This is also a big help for her sitting skills, which we are working on with her PT. The toy keeps her attention enough so that she stops fighting me on the work of sitting because she wants to play with it! It was a great motivator—when she started falling to the side, I pulled the cube away and told her she couldn't play with it again until she pushed herself back up. After a few half-hearted 'Nos,' she pushed back up."

For the complete list, visit Love That Max.

Do you have gifts for special needs children on your holiday shopping list?

Image via Amazon, Amazon, Funrise, Toysrus

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