Thursday, December 2, 2010

Holiday Shopping for Children with Special Needs

Once a year for the holidays I get together with my good college friend, Thereza.  She just happened to be in town the other week so we got together for brunch today and exchanged gifts for the kids.  Thereza has a precious 5 year old named Darien, who was diagnosed with Autism when he was born.  He is honestly the funniest little man, but I had a little trouble when deciding what I would get him for Christmas.  His mother had told me that they were working on his sensory development and awareness, so I decided to be a little creative and make an assortment of gifts.

I got the idea from a fellow mommy blogger at

With that inspiration I went out to my local craft store and purchased several plastic bins that I filled with rice and sand and shaving cream.  For his auditory senses, I also picked up some kazoos and party noisemakers that Darien absolutely loved.  Gift-wrapping the bins was a bad idea because the contents spilled out all over the floor of the restaurant when he opened them, but Darien had a great time playing! We could hardly get him out of the pile of sand and rice and shaving cream under the table when it was time to leave, but finally the busboy came over with hose and we were able to snatch him up.  Thereza let me know that the noise makers were a big hit.  Darien hasn't stopped with the kazoo's for the past three weeks straight!

I realized from this experience, the difficulty it must be, of having to buy gifts for children with special needs.  We discovered early at the age of one and half, that Jennica was a slow reader, and worked with that struggle by entering her into toddler reading classes.  So I thought it might be nice if I posted some commercial present ideas for kids with special needs...

Here's a great option for quirky little girls who cannot relate to the typical image of perfectly proportioned and active Barbie.  It's her paraplegic friend Becky!

I absolutely adore this company- Disabled Dolls- which represents every different kind of child out there.  As you can see, there are two blind girls (one who is presumably cross-eyed and allergic to dogs), a girl with leg braces, a boy in a wheel chair and with glasses, a boy who carries stuff in a rolly bin because he can't use his arms, and a boy with a hearing aid who has to wear hospital scrubs.

I would absolutely buy a doll like this for my child if I had adopted.  It is important for an adopted child to feel welcomed into the family, and to make sure there is absolutely no alienation.  What better way to celebrate his or her life than by giving the gift of a friend who has had a similar life.  What's more, many off the dolls appear to be injured or disabled in some way, which brings exposure to the importance of caring for children who have special needs or who have experienced trauma in their lives with birth parents.  

1 comment:

  1. Whilst I can see that for some kids disability themed toys would help them accept themselves and identify with the doll,I would worry about sterotyping if the view was these are for kids who don't identify with Barbie, no real little or woman girl is like Barbie. I think they have a equal use in helping non disabled kids understand disability, for both a selection of toys, not just one or the other.

    Born long before such toys were available, my favourites were dolls that did things, walked, gymnastics, and wrote, things I couldn't physically do but could experience through play. I also did physio, and other treatments, on my toys, and made simple dolly disability aids out of household items