May 5, 2018
Buying gifts for kids with complex needs takes some thoughtful planning. These tips can help you find the perfect gift for the special little ones in your life:
- Movies and music are often great choices for kids. Some movies have great colors that are ideal for children with cortical visual impairment (CVI). Some movies and music can really help to get the kids motivated to communicate and move. Make sure you include gift receipts or ask ahead. Many families will have a lot of movies already.
- Everyone gets stuffed animals for kids with medical complexity that are hard to shop for. By the time a kid turns 3 or 4, they end up with quite a collection of stuffed animals. Unless the family has said they want more stuffed animals, select something else; they probably already have more than they know what to do with.
- Some toys are very loud or bright. For a lot of kids, overstimulation can lead to full-on sensory meltdowns. Other kids may require a lot of coordination to play with the toy. If the child you are buying for has limited mobility, they may not be able to play with the toy you want to get them. I would suggest asking the family—or staying away from toys in general.
- Activities are fun gift ideas. It may be gift passes to an activity location (like a park or bounce house) or an activity for the child to do at home (puzzles, crafts, etc.). There are things to consider if gifting a pass to an activity. Some kids may physically be able to get around, but they may have compromised immune systems and the family may avoid crowded places (at least during cold and flu season). Or maybe the child has a sensory disorder, and thus, going into a hyper-stimulated environment may not be something they would enjoy. For these kids, if you want to get an activity related gift, you're best sticking with activities that can be done at home.
- Books are my FAVORITE gift idea. They are much easier to store and they are great for kids of all ages and abilities. Lots of books have fantastic art work that is wonderful for kids with CVI as well. If the child cannot read, it’s a great bonding gift for the parent to read to the child. I would suggest asking the family if the child is able to read, and if so, at what level. Try to find books with characters or items the child is interested in.
- Clothes are tricky! For some kids, they need access to certain parts of the body (feeding tubes, central lines, catheters, etc.). Children with skin issues cannot lay on seams, zippers, buttons, bows, etc. without it causing break down of the skin and sometimes even open wounds. Ask the family for guidance on what to get.
- Often, I really try to find gifts that kids WANT, but getting a kid something they need is good, too. With kids with medical complexity, there is almost always something they need. These may include blankets, drool cloths, travel bags, bottles, or therapy aides (like chewy sticks or bolsters). There is nothing wrong with asking the parents what a child may need.
- Donate to a local child’s charity that helps children like the one you are shopping for. Or maybe the family is saving up for a special brick or star in the child’s honor at one of their favorite places. If that is the case, you could contribute toward their fundraising.
- Regardless which gift you chose, as long as it comes from your heart, I’m sure the child in your life will love it.
Find more information on resources and supports for families in the Family Support section.