Here you are, wondering what you can get your child with disabilities for the holidays that just might help him—and will enable him to have a whole lot of fun. Once again, I've put together a list of present picks recommended by parents and therapists for children, tweens and teens. You can click on the link or photo to buy. BRB, off to toss some fake snowballs around the house. (Keep reading!)
Toys And Games That Help Boost Fine-Motor Skills
Dimpl (Fat Brain Toys, $12.95)
Simple yet so satisfying—kids can press and poke the five silicone buttons, or push them all the way in and pop them through to the other side.
DIY Felt Christmas Tree (Jollylife, $16.99)
This mini tree, 3 feet tall, comes with 32 felt ornaments kid can stick on and rearrange for the very merriest OT session. There's also this 3.6-foot version.
Barbie Fashionistas Doll 132 and 133 (Mattel, $16.19)
Roll Barbie onto the ramp and off. Repeat. And rejoice in Barbies of all abilities.
Ride-On Wheelie Chair (Hot Wheels, $5.95)
Wheelchairs seem to be trending in toyland—it's about time! This makes a great stocking stuffer. Also available in black and silver.
An app guides kids to make animal shapes using light and flexible modeling clay that comes in super-bright colors. It's nontoxic, won't stick to hands or stain other objects and dries within 24 hours. Also comes in Aliens, Birds, Bugs, Monsters and Dinos. Good times!
Pushinz Shapes (ALEX Toys, $17.33)
Kids can stick these colorful silicone shapes to smooth surfaces, using their imaginations to form shapes. May require hand-over-hand help. Clingy shapes like these are my go-to for airplane travel because they stick on the windows and trays.
Table Top Air Hockey (Sport Squad, $49.98)
The beauty of this set is that it can rest on a table, so a child can play while seated (and avoid w-sitting on the floor). Or they can stand and practice weight bearing. I recommend buying the large air hockey paddles, which are easier to grip, here.
The thingie you loved as a kid, in a larger version so it's easier to grasp.
Don't Break The Ice (Hasbro, $6.36)
The goal: tap out ice blocks one by one so Phillip the Penguin stays on top. Perhaps the only ice blocks on the planet immune to global warming.
Little Tikes Slammin Racers Police Car ($12.99)
This car races more than 15-plus once the button's pressed, and it's really easy to press—a great way to teach cause and effect. Has realistic sounds, too.
Chalkboard T-Shirt (Chalk of the Town, $24.95)
Kids fill in the chalkboard heart with a picture or message. Comes with a shirt, non-toxic white chalk marker and a wash cloth; BYO imagination.
Touch Lights Musical Doodle Board (Crayola, $24.99)
This mess-free, portable doodle board lights up and plays music, encouraging kids to manipulate and move their fingers along the smooth sealed gel surface. There are six songs and 12 lights.
Differently Abled Block Play Figures (Excellaeations, $31.91)
Made of vinyl, these figures make playtime truly inclusive. Pack of seven; tallest doll measures 5 1/4".
Crazy Cereal (Educational Insights, $21.99)
Kids match cereal pieces to color-changing spoons. Works on color recognition, matching fine-motor skills and eye-hand coordination. (And no need to worry about sugar OD!)
Hide & Seek Learning Tree (Learning Resources, $26.22)
An OT favorite, this tree-shaped toy has doors kids open to reveal animals; they can also tuck animals inside and a chute sends them tumbling out.
Rockestra (B. Toys, $38.94)
One of the most fun toys in the history of toys, say my kids. Children plop the instrument of their choice (lead guitar, bass, acoustic, drums, violins, keyboard and vocals) into the orchestra pit to hear them them play, in any combination. The stage lights up, like a good show should.
Fresh Mart Grocery Store (Melissa and Doug, $149.99)
It's an investment, yes, but it will be well loved for years to come. This little store has a hand-cranked conveyor belt, a card-swipe machine, a bagging area a realistic beeping scanner and a cash drawer. (Not included: the person ahead of you buying 500 things.) As one mom says, "Our daughter has CP and uses a wheelchair. She can access this toy pretty decently to play with her siblings."
Ball Drop Tower (EnjoyZone, $17.99)
Comes with seven take-apart tiers and seven balls to encourage kids to grasp and drop.
Table Top Easel for Kids (B. Toys, $24.95)
A folding tabletop easel with a blackboard on one side and dry erase board on the other. Comes with four non-toxic markers, white chalk and an eraser.
Popcorn Party (Play-Doh, $11.49)
Kids can use their hands to crank pretend popcorn into three different size buckets, then add toppings like pretend pretzels and crazy candy they make with stamps and molds. There's also a tool that makes syrup and butter. Comes with eight assorted sizes of Play-Doh, a clear molded waffle press, a clear molded roller, an extruder, a spatula, a spoon, two serving cups, frosting spatula and knife. I think that's more kitchen gadgets than I own.
PipSquigz Combo Set (Fat Brain, $29.99)
These textured thingies suction onto flat surfaces—think a table, high chair tray, or stander tray. And they stay put, so your child can swat away. Three of these make rattling sounds. BPA-free and food-grade silicone, they're also fine for nibbling.
Hoppin Topper Interactive Plush Toy (FurReal, $24.99)
One of the past year's hottest toys is also one that's most easily manipulated by kids with fine-motor challenges—this Triceratrops jumps with the wave of a hand, and settles down with a touch. Comes with two dino treats.
Garden Fresh Salad Set (Learning Resources, $17.69)
Encourage your child to play with her food! She can manipulate the tongs to pick up pieces of salad (38 included) and plop them into bowls. Might even inspire a love for veggies.
Kids Soft Water Bottle (Vapur, $12.99)
OK, technically not a toy but these soft-sided, foldable 0.4L water bottles are super cute and encourage grasping and independent drinking.
Toys That Help Boost Gross-Motor Skills
Classic darts, without the sharp ends—these have powerful magnets that make them easier to stick to the board.
Teeter Popper (Fat Brain Toys, $36.95)
Kids rock back and forth on this concave board, working their gross-motor skills, core strength, stability and balance. Oh, and the silicone cups on the bottom make really satisfying pops.
Bowling Set (Kidoozie, $29.86)
Six flat-bottomed pins about 7 inches tall, one weighted foam ball, lots of f-u-n.
Balance Stepping Stones (National Geographic, $34.99)
Kids can practice their balance skills, standing on one foam-filled "stone" at a time or practice walking from each to each. Comes with five stones, also available in 10 stones.
Indoor Snowball Fight, 20 pack (Snowtime Anytime, $24.99)
Practice pitches, without getting cold—or toss at an annoying sibling. These fakes have a soft, fuzzy texture similar to snow, with a good weight and feel.
Hop Mini Trampoline (Diggin, $49.99)
This trampoline is strong, durable and bouncy, to encourage movement, jumping, balance and coordination. It's portable (it weighs under 7 pounds) and holds kids up to 44 pounds. Measures 24" x 24" x 24".
Baby Pull Sled (Flexible Flyer, $71.99)
For little ones who need back sport and a wide base for stability, there's this winter wonder that can hold up to 50 pounds. Measures 29"L x 14"W x 11.5"H (Flexible Flyer Pad sold separately). Looking for a less expensive option? Try the TSL Kid's Pull sled, which also has back support, for $39. Game to spend even more? The Portable Snow Stroller Baby Bed has support and a handle for adults to push.
Ollyball Ultimate Indoor Playball (Hedstrom, $14.99)
This super lightweight ball, which kids can color in, has cushion technology that's safe for indoor play and is supposedly guaranteed not to break windows. Worth a shot? He he.
A popular ride-on vehicle that inspires kids to practice movement, steering and hand-eye coordination. Pretend your kids is a DoorDash driver and have him deliver you food!
Toys and Books That Help Boost Speech & Cognition
These pets are voice and sound-activated—kids can talk, yell, sing, clap or play music to make them move. The louder kids yell, the faster they go.
Codi the Storytelling Robot ($99.99)
Screen time a problem with your kids? Yeah, me too. Codi the Robot to the rescue! The 8.5-inch tall screenless silicone STEM toy is an interactive little guy via voice and buttons. His antenna and ears light up and change colors as he plays a free library of more than 200 classic songs and stories, customizable by interests and age. Parents can even record messages, and set reminders for habits like brushing teeth, through the app. He comes with one soft outfit that keeps him cushioned when dropped. Find out more here.
Wonderbly personalized story book ($24.99 and up)
This company personalizes books with your child's name (even right on the cover). These books are creative, inspiring and beautifully illustrated.
Carpool Karaoke, the Mic (Singing Machine, $49.95)
Someday, your child might be hanging in James Corden's car with him, doing Carpool Karaoke. Until then, there's this bluetooth to encourage sounds, words and budding stardom right in your very own minivan. You just find a fave station on the radio, match the station on your mic, then pair your mobile device to the mic. Comes with lights, echo effects and a built-in rechargeable battery that lasts up to 6 hours.
Sorgenfresser Worry Eater (Schmidt, $14.57)
Got an anxious kiddo? Let this Worry Eater munch his concerns. Kids can make a drawing of their troubles or write them, put them in this guy's mouth and zip them up for a better night's sleep.
This app-enabled robotic ball enables kids to move it around, play games and even learn to code. It comes with the ball, a charging cable, 3 mini traffic cones and 6 mini bowling pins.
Toys That Help With Sensory Needs
Dodecagon 12-Sided Fidget Cube (Minelopa, $8.99)
Literally everywhere your child turns, there's something to fidget with—gears, buttons, joysticks, switches and stress balls. Comes in assorted colors.
Large LED Jellyfish Lava Lamp Aquarium (Sensory Moon, $45.99)
This aquarium-like find has three big glowing jellyfish, a 20-color option remote and a mini ocean wave projector. Caution: child may never leave his room again.
Sensory Opaque Balls (Edushape, $11.24)
A set of four soft and stimulating balls that can enhance tactile skills, grasping and coordination? Yes, please.
TeePee Play Tent (B Kids, $39.99)
There's a main entrance, a window and even a soothing starry lantern at the pull of a cord. It's easy to assemble, 39 inches long x 39.5" wide x 55" high and includes 3 AA batteries.
Pin Art (Toysmith)
Sometimes, you just can't beat a modern-day classic for soothing sensory seekers (and pretty much everyone in the family). At 3.75" x 5", this one's portable.
Frog Folding Hanging Pod Swing Seat (Happy Pie, $45.99)
While there are lots of of swing seats to choose from, this cotton-canvas one (suitable for up to 150 pounds) offers neck support and the seat inflates with a pump.
Wireless Bluetooth Beanie (Feeke, $19.99)
Teens can slip on this hat and answer calls, find songs and change the volume with the three-button control panel on the side.
Unicorn hooded bathrobe (XVOVX, $26.99)
I mean, who wouldn't want a unicorn bathrobe? This one's amazingly soft and cuddly. Available in child sizes, too, as seen on that world-famous model, Ben.
Infinity Cube Fidget Toy (Small Fish, $9.95)
Flip and fold and flip and fold and flip and fold to infinity! The eight blocks and smooth curved edges are easy on the hands and light on wrists and arms.
Pull it, twist it, bounce it, smash it—this putty does it all and comes in a variety of colors and effects, including glow in the dark, metallic and sparkle.
Quatro Mini Hand-Held Massager (HoMedics, $12.99)
Good vibrations! Perhaps you can even encourage your child to use it on you?
Cool Stuff For Tweens And Teens
Mini Disco Light (Miuko, $13.38)
This two-inch tall 'lil light emits three colors that are sound-activated—it pulses to the beat of music playing in the room. Comes with a built-in battery chargeable by USB adapter.
For a spa-tastic time, girls can make their own body butter—mix the colored scented liquids with the lotion to make the colors, add shimmer, and store in the panda containers. Also pampering: DIY Bath Jelli Pops, Bath Bomb Donuts, Bathaccino Bath Bombs and Confetti, DIY Bath Jellipops and Sketch It Nail Pens (kids can add streaks to their hair).
JR POP Waterproof Portable Bluetooth Speaker (JBL, $39.95)
Great quality sound in a wireless and waterproof bluetooth speaker, with built in lights. I'm recommending this one because it's on the smaller side and more easily graspable plus it's really durable, so if your kid drops it, no worries. It can be snapped onto basically anywhere, and the rechargeable battery lasts for up to five hours. Comes in five other colors.
Weighted Blanket (YNM, starting at $43.84 for twin size)
Most every teen's favorite activity is sleeping, and a weighted blanket makes nighttime and naps extra comfy and relaxing. This highly-rated, 15-pound one comes in a range of sizes and colors.
Scratch-Off Map of the United States (Maps International, $26.99)
Scratch off the gold coating for places teens have visited...or places they'd like to visit.
MagnaReady Classic Red Tartan Plaid Shirt (Magnaready, $49.50)
This adaptive clothing company has started a Magna Mini line, with a couple of options for boys that have magnetic closures instead of buttons down the front and at the cuffs. The Classic Red Tartan collared cotton-polyester shirt is a great holiday pick. And yes, it's machine washable.
A cool calendar
There are tons of calendars out there to match your child's interest (I get my Max a fire truck one every year). I love the annual Coping Calendars by disabled artist Hayley Brown.
Mood Light Alarm Clock with Nature Sounds (La Crosse Technology, $29.85)
Your teen might hate waking up a little less with a clock that changes lights (this has seven different ones) and makes relaxing nature sounds (rain/ocean/backwoods/thunder/river). There's also a port for mobile devices, for playing music. That could come in handy for another wake-up tactic we invented: blasting Barry Manilow songs.
Spotify gift card ($30)
This one's good for three months of a premium Spotify subscription.
Amazon bookmark gift card
A $25 Amazon gift card that can be used as a bookmark. Also comes in a ski design, a penguin design and a pretty leaf pattern.
Light-Up Cloud Message Board (Fat Brain Toys, $19.95)
How awesome is this: Your child (or you) can write out a fave phrase, an inspiring quote or a reminder on a wipe-clean surface. Flick on the board and voila! A message that shines. It can be propped up on a shelf, or there are two holes in the back for hanging. Comes with a dry-erase marker, requires 3 AA batteries (not included).
And if you'd like to check out previous Love That Max gift guides...
Great gifts for kids and teens with disabilities 2018
Great gifts for kids and teens with disabilities 2017
Great toys for kids with special needs 2016
Great toys for kids with special needs 2015
Great toys for kids with special needs 2014
Great toys for kids with special needs 2013
Great toys for kids with special needs 2012
Great toys for kids with special needs 2011
Great toys for kids with special needs 2010
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