First of all, if you don't follow the blog, Love That Max, you need to! It is a wonderfully written, open and honest blog about raising a child with special needs. So go check it out! While you're visiting, check out the 2011 holiday gift guide for kids with special needs. This guide is full of toys that are kid-tested and parent approved! There is definitely something for everyone in this list of toys broken down into categories of fine motor skills, sensory issues, cause and effect, gross motor skills, and learning and speech. Ellen, at Love that Max, has another great gift guide: "Handmade gifts by special needs moms that pay for their kids' therapies." This blog post contains a list of gifts for kids, moms, teachers and everyone else. What's great about this list is that all of the items in the list are made by moms of children with special needs. Most of these moms use the money made to help pay for therapies for their children. Buying from these sellers is a win-win situation!
Another great blog is written by Tana Jimenez, a pediatric physical therapist. I think her physical therapy blog is the perfect complement to my little occupational therapy blog :) She has a written a series of holiday gift guides with a focus on promoting gross motor development for various age groups. Click here to check them out!
Advance for Occupational Therapy Practitioners is a free publication for occupational therapists. The November 7th publication had a cover story on choosing toys for children with special needs. You can click here to check out the online version of the article. In addition, Advance has also created a patient handout, Toys for Children with Special Needs, written by Michelle Lange, an OT and assistive technology specialist, for therapists to share with families to assist in finding the right toys and adaptations for their child with special needs.
Glenda Hampton Anderson, over at Glenda's Assistive Technology Information and More, is an assistive technology consultant. She has created an informative gift guide for children with special needs. This gift guide has a great list of "Top Ten Things to Consider When Buying Toys for Children with Disabilities", as well as information about devices and switch activated toys for children with disabilities. Click here to check it out!
Each year Toys "R" Us puts out a Differently-Abled Toy Guide. This guide features specially selected toys that encourage play for children with physical, cognitive or developmental disabilities. Symbols are assigned to each toy to make it easier for parents to find toys that promote specific skills, such as language, tactile, fine motor, gross motor, creativity. Click here to check it out!
Babble.com, which is a wonderful parenting website, has a blog called The Toddler Times. This blog has two gift guides, while not specifically written for children with special needs, with great ideas for children of all levels of ability. The first is called 15 Holiday Gifts to Make for Your Toddler. These ideas are great for crafty parents or those on a budget. The ideas range from sensory (Homemade Finger Paints) to fine motor (Activity Board) to pretend play (Felt Potato Head Dolls) to learning (Counting Bean Bags) and more! Click here to check out the complete list.
The second gift list on Toddler Times is 10 Unique Toddler Toys for under $25. This list contains items from Etsy, an online handmade marketplace. Despite all of my links to amazon, I am a strong believer in supporting small businesses (my mom is a small business owner). And these gifts are handmade, which makes them much more unique than what you'll find at all the big box stores. This list contains a magnetic fishing game (great for eye-hand coordination), an activity bag for toddlers on the go (great for working on fine motor skills and self-help skills), and felt play food (great for pretend play), among other great toys! Click here to check out the complete list!
I just came across a comprehensive gift list created by Jen Dermody, a pediatric OT. Be sure to go check it out! Click here to visit Jen's OT for Kids.
I know there are tons of great gift guides and lists out there. If you know of any other helpful toy guides for children with special needs, please share in the comments section below!