The Season of Giving
We’ve finally made it to the holiday season. With just a few weeks to go before the festivities, it’s time to finish up that holiday shopping list.
With so many toys, games and electronics filling the shelves, shopping for any child can prove to be a challenge. Selecting the perfect gift for a child with cerebral palsy will certainly be no exception.
Luckily, there are countless gift options for children with special needs that are sure to light up the room this holiday season.
Many major toy and game manufacturers have designed product lines that foster engagement, growth and development for children with special needs.
When choosing a gift for a child with CP, be sure to keep their specific needs and abilities in mind. Some children with cerebral palsy may not have the range of motion or muscle coordination that some toys require.
The perfect gift for any child with special needs should promote the development of fine and gross motor skills, communication skills and intellectual growth. Toys and games like this allow children to improve any CP symptoms or coexisting conditions, while also having a ton of fun.
Your Guide to Finding The Perfect Holiday Gift
In honor of December being “Safe Toys and Gifts” month, we’ve compiled our favorite toys and gifts for children with cerebral palsy – designed with their unique needs in mind.
With all of the options available for children with special needs these days, finding the right gift for a child with CP is easier than you may think.
Building and Stacking Toys
Playing with toys that can be stacked, built or molded can be a highly rewarding activity for a child with CP.They’re great for sparking imagination, as well as improving coordination and fine motor skills.
Children with cerebral palsy often experience involuntary, spastic movements; therefore, it’s best to choose toy sets that feature large stacking items. This will allow a child to easily grasp and handle the toy.
Here’s a few of our favorite building and stacking toys:
Tobbles Neo’s unique design and texture make for a strong tactile experience, encouraging children to play and stack over again.
This award-winning toy has been praised by customers for helping children with coordination disorders, apraxia and hand tremors. Its weighted design and gripability make Tobbles Neo a perfect gift for children of all ages.
Kinetic Sand – $14.95, ages 3 and up
What’s more fun than sand that moves by itself?
Kinetic sand is a wildly popular toy among children because of the sand’s unique texture and movement. The consistency is soothing and engaging for children (or even adults!). Kinetic Sand is used across many schools and therapy sessions to help children relax and improve sensory stimulation.
Musical toys, games and instruments can provide a tremendous amount of amusement for children with special needs. They help to illustrate cause-and-effect relationships using auditory stimulation and they can also strengthen various muscles through repetitive play.
Musical instruments typically come in a variety of colors, shapes, textures and designs. For the gift-giver who just can’t seem to find the perfect choice, musical instruments are sure to be a hit this holiday season.
Here’s a few of our favorite musical instruments:
Mozart Magic Cube – $31.95, all ages
The Mozart Magic Cube is an excellent pick for children with CP, as it strengthens hand-eye coordination while providing a “reward” for each time the child plays with the toy.
It’s also a great pick for children with co-occuring CP and autism, who may be distressed by the loud sounds a traditional music toy would make.
Rhythm Music 6-Piece Set – $39.99, ages 3 and up
The Rhythm Music 6-Piece Set is a classic percussion set that encourages all skill levels to join in. Each of the instruments are lightweight and easy to use for children with limited muscle movement.
Playing these fun instruments helps strengthen a number of cognitive skills, including timing, rhythm and focus.
Playing with a ball is a great way for children with CP to develop hand-eye coordination and greater range of motion. Some multi-functional balls are big enough to sit on, allowing children to work on their balance and core muscles.
When choosing the type of ball you’d like to get for a child with CP, try selecting one with a ridged texture for easy gripping. A multi-functional ball with has less “bounce” is also a good pick, as the ball will be easier to catch and control.
Here’s some of our favorite multi-functional balls:
GOING Magic Light Ball – Prices vary, ages 6 and up
The GOING Magic Light Ball omits seven colorful lights as it bounces around the room. Its soft, rubbery texture makes it easy to catch and hold.
By playing with this toy, CP children can develop their gross motor skills and reciprocal arm and leg movements. Blinking lights on the ball also help children with any vision impairments locate the ball and bounce it back.
The Peanut Ball – $32.99 – $42.99, ages 3 and up
A staple for many physical therapy centers, the Peanut Ball’s unique shape provides added stability for balance, exercise and vestibular therapy. It’s a great ball to sit, bounce or lay on, while still allowing for plenty of outward movement.
More and more apps are being developed every day to help children with disabilities. These apps enable children to acquire life skills, engage in self-directed play and they help to foster creativity, intellectual growth and communicate skills.
When searching for an app, you may want to first identify the child’s specific needs before gifting an app to them. There are hundreds of apps that are tailored to an array of special needs, including speech, fine motor skills or physical limitations, so it’s important to know what you’re looking for before purchasing.
If you’re considering giving a digital gift this year, we recommend:
ProloQuo2Go – $219.99
ProloQuo2Go is an award-winning communication app that gives a voice to children and adults with speech impairments. It is designed to help promote language development and grow communication skills.
Users can personalize their own vocabulary preferences and use a variety of symbols to communicate with others easily and effectively.
Injini – $29.99
Injini is a play-based learning, exercise and gaming app that is well-suited for young children with cognitive, language and fine motor delays. The app’s vast collection of activities include puzzles, illustrations and farm-themed mini games.
The app connects fun with learning in meaningful ways, helping children with CP conceptualize spatial awareness and improve memory and visual processing.
Getting Involved in the Spirit of Giving
For those who are looking for additional ways to give back to this holiday season, consider donating toys to a local charity.
By selecting toys that are not only safe, but also developed for those with special needs, this will help ensure that every child receives a gift they love this season. There are tons of charities dedicated to making every child’s holiday season as bright and magical as it can be.
Here’s a list of some of the most well-known toy donation charities:
- Toys for Tots
- Second Chance Toys
- Room to Grow
- Donation Town
Toys that are safe enough for children with special needs to use are some of the most requested items from these charities. We’re certain that a donation to one of these organizations will definitely make it home for the holidays.
All photos via: usastrojax.com, fatbraintoys.com, facebook.com