Friday, December 6, 2019

The Disability Blogger Weekend Link-Up: happppy posting!


What to do if you're new  

This is a place to share a recent favorite post you've written or read. Scroll all the way down to the bottom of this post. Where it says "Your name" put the name of the blog followed by the title of the post you want to share (or just the name of the post, if there's no room—you get 80 characters).

Like this: Great gifts for kids and teens with disabilities 2019: holiday gift guide

Where it says "Your URL" put the direct link to the post.

Click "Enter." Leave a comment if you want to say more. Go check out some great posts.

Thursday, December 5, 2019

'Twas The Night Before Christmas: special needs edition


'Twas the night before Christmas
When all through the house
Not a creature was stirring
Not even the adaptive mouse

The stockings were hung with care by the chimney
A truly awesome fine-motor-skills activity
Maybe next year I'll grasp
The figurines in the toy holiday nativity?

Some children snuggled with weighted blankets in their beds
While visions of gluten-free sugar plums danced in their heads
And I, decked out in my noise-blocking headphones
Had just settled into a very chill zone

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter
I grabbed my orthotics to see what was the matter
Away to the window I trotted on the floor
Tore open the shutters—a range-of-motion score!

The moon shined on the snow—dare I tread?
Come to think of it, I deserve an adaptive sled!
When what to my wondering eyes did appear
But an accessible sleigh and eight tiny reindeer

With a little old driver, so full of bilateral coordination and quick
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick
More rapid than a gait trainer his coursers they came
And he articulated vowels and consonants and called them by name:

"Now SLP! Now Wheelchair Dancer! Now ABA and Vixen!
On Bean Bag! On Foam Roller! On DAFO and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! You can do it! To the top of the wall!
Now dash away, dash away, dash away all!"
* AND NO TOE WALKING!!!

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they met an obstacle, like any kid with disabilities, they did try
So up to the house clutching their fidgets they flew
With the sleigh full of developmental toys, and St. Nicholas, too

Then faster than you can say "Reimburse me, insurance company!"  I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof
As I drew in my head, and crossed midline to turn around
Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound

He was dress'd all in tagless clothing from his head to his foot
And his clothes were all tarnish'd with shaving cream (sensory play!) and soot
A bundle of enabling toys was flung on his back
And he looked like a pediatric therapist just opening his pack

His eyes—how they twinkled!—his dimples, how merry
His motor planning was decent after a bazillion sessions of physical therapy
His little mouth, thanks to oral-motor exercises, was drawn up like a bow
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow

A CBD oil capsule he held in his teeth
And the healing vibes encircled his head like a wreath
He had a broad face and a therapy-ball-round belly
That shook when he laughed just like jelly except that's jiggly and I won't eat it

He was curvy and well coordinated, a right jolly old elf
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself
A wink of his eye and flexion of his head
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread (except those therapy bills)

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work
Filled all the stockings using a pincer grasp, then turned with a jerk
And laying an isolated finger (woo hoo!) aside of his nose
He gave a nonverbal communication cue and up the chimney he rose

He sprang to his sleigh, and his team did their breath exercises then gave a whistle
And away they flew like the down of a thistle
But I heard him exclaim, 'ere he drove out of sight
Happy Christmas to children of all abilities, and to all a good night!

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

The free gift people can give kids and teens with disabilities year round


Like many people, I donated on Giving Tuesday to nonprofits whose missions and work are close to my heart, including one that runs programs and housing for adults with disabilities called JESPY House, The National Council on Independent Living, a camp program Max attends and our local Volunteer First Aid Squad. My Facebook feed was filled with friends raising money for their causes.

Giving Tuesday is a great chaser to the shopping frenzy of the previous days. But as I sat on my couch last night in my usual end-of-day stupor, it occurred to me that one of the greatest gifts people can give kids and teens with disabilities like my Max is 100 percent free and oh so simple. And it is: Treat our children with respect.

What does respect mean? 

Presume competence. Perhaps my child is not able to do certain things—and perhaps his challenges are more visible than others' are—but he's got plenty of abilities. Cerebral palsy, autism, Down syndrome, ADD: they're one part of who a child is, not his entire being.

Don't talk to our children in baby voices, or talk over their heads as if they aren't right there. Speak directly to them, as if they are any child. Ask questions. Talk about yourself. Be playful. Heck, make fart jokes if you want. 

Have patience. Children and teens with disabilities may take some effort to understand. Or they may be slower to get their thoughts out than other children, especially if they are using speech apps or devices. Give them time. They may not communicate like their peers do, but they can have just as much happening inside their heads.

Don't pity them. Our children don't feel bad for themselves. They don't consider themselves tragedies. They are children and teens living their childhood and adolescence in their own way, and they need confidence and cheering on—not that "oh, you poor thing" vibe that they can (and do) sense.

Oh, and respect also means teaching your children to do the same.

It would mean so much to our children, yet it takes so little.

GIVE your respect.

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Don't park in a handicap parking spot when you're waiting for someone


The other night, our family drove into the town parking lot. As I passed one of the accessible parking spots, I saw a car idling there. This happens regularly in this parking lot, especially during rush hour, when people waiting for their partners to come home either occupy handicap spots or block them. I knew what I was going to do.

Earlier that day, I'd read a post my friend Hallie had put on her Facebook page. A mom of a girl with Down syndrome, writer and advocate, Hallie had jumped into a conversation on her local Facebook page when a woman shared that her adult daughter had been parked illegally in a handicapped spot when some guy started bothering her. "I pointed out that while I was sorry that happened, I did hope the police ticketed her for parking illegally in a handicapped spot and taking it away from someone who might need it," Hallie wrote. "The comments are unbelievable: people attacking me because 'her daughter could have moved if someone had needed the handicapped spot.'"

Hallie was outraged. As she noted, "You expect a person with a disability to park, then walk across a busy train lot to ask an able-bodied person to move their car?"

Exactly. I see it all the time, cars without handicap placards idling in accessible spots in parking lots at the supermarket, at Target, the mall, school pick-up zones, everywhere. And there's a big problem with that: Occupying or blocking a spot designated for a disabled person to pick someone up means you're taking it away from a disabled person who needs that spot. Period.

There's no justifying that it's "just" for a couple of minutes or that you'll move if someone needs the spot—a disabled person in need of the spot will likely assume someone is rightfully occupying it and move on, even though the spot was meant to be theirs. They're not going to get out of the car and check for a handicap placard, and why should they? Getting around can be challenging enough for people with physical disabilities. They shouldn't have to be inconvenienced by someone illegally occupying an accessible parking spot because parking there was convenient for them.

Even if someone idles in front of a spot, they're still blocking it. Reasoning that perhaps a person "forgot" their decal is besides the point. You're not legally allowed to park in a handicap parking spot if you do not have the designated placard or license plate, and you risk a ticket if you do. One mom on Hallie's page noted that her kid can't walk more than 200 feet "and still, if we forget the placard because we switched it in someone else's car because they were picking up my kid, I still don't park in an HC spot.... Why? Decency and societal expectations."

To be sure, people may genuinely not realize it's wrong to temporarily park in a handicap spot. But make no mistake, it is. If you wouldn't park your car in an accessible spot because you are not a disabled person or driving a disabled child, don't block the spot. And don't park on those diagonal blue lines, either—they're for loading and unloading wheelchairs off ramps in accessible vehicles.

That night in the parking lot, I walked over to the car and sure enough, there was no handicap placard. A guy was sitting there with headphones on. I knocked on the window and when he opened it I said, "You're in a handicapped parking spot. It's for people with disabilities. I have a child with disabilities, and I care." He apologetically said, "I'm just waiting for someone." I pointed out there were other spots where he could wait, and he nodded. As I walked away, he pulled out.

We're headed into holiday season and parking lots at the mall, restaurants and train stations will be more filled up than usual because of shopping and parties. Frigid weather may also make it tempting to hover in a handicapped spot so, say, a spouse or visitor getting off the train won't have far to walk. While I'm not recommending confronting people idling in their cars without placards, if you see an officer nearby you could let them know. If the person genuinely forgot their placard and they get a ticket, they can appear with it in card and get the ticket revoked. (BTW, idling is also illegal in a bunch of states.)

Be a considerate person: Don't block the accessible spot.

Monday, December 2, 2019

The joy of sharing a family first together


I grew up in Brooklyn, New York and like many New Yorkers, I've always loved watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade from the comfort of my living room, in PJs. Except months ago, Max and Sabrina got it into their heads that they wanted to be at the parade. I was dubious—could we? Would Max be freaked out by the crowds? Would he get tired? Would everyone get grumpy? It turned out to be a miracle on 72nd Street and Central Park West.

We got up at 5:40 a.m., arrived by 6:30 a.m. and claimed our spots in front (shout out to Krystin for the help). We were uptown, a somewhat more chill scene than the crowds at Herald Square. The local news had been filled with reports that the floats would be cancelled if wind was too wild, which hadn't happened since 1971. But it wasn't too gusty that morning and it was warm-ish for late November, so we lucked out. The parade started at 9 a.m. and we passed the time chatting with people around us, including one woman whose son had helped build some of the floats.

 Max made some new friends. He informed them he was moving to Los Angeles, although New York was "OK." They were amused. 

At last, we could see the giant turkey that kicked off the parade gliding toward us. We were all enchanted, and we stayed that way for the next couple of hours as we took in the balloons towering above us, the marching bands and the cool rolling floats—this year, there were 10 new ones, along with old faves. 

It's only right that a giant turkey kick things off. This was the 93rd Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Max knew that Snoopy, a parade regular since 1969, is my fave. This year, he was decked out as an astronaut. The parade was started by store employees in 1924 as a Christmas parade and changed to Thanksgiving Day in 1927. That's when balloons debuted, including a dinosaur and Felix the Cat.  

Firefighter clowns: Not scary at all. 

Poor Ronald McDonald—his knee got busted. Although the balloons were flown low, to be safe, the crosswalks were still a bit hairy for the handlers since there were no tall buildings to shield the balloons from the wind. They scrambled to keep the big guys afloat, but they did.  

When Ben got tired, we let him eat a bazillion fruit roll-ups because we are great parents.

Jimmy Fallon and The Roots: love 'em.

The Grinch looking Grinch-like. It was as if he was staring right at us. "He's BAD!" Ben announced.

The 610 Stompers from New Orleans, stole my heart. Richard Simmons, were you watching?

Sabrina and the Mt Rushmore dudes

LEGOsaurus—aka The Brick-Changer. He's new and part turkey, part dragon.

These lovely ladies are part of the Second Time Arounders, from St. Petersburg, Florida. The marching band is dedicated, as their sites says, "to those who have marched in a college, high school, DCI or military marching band...and dreamed of doing it one more time."

Idina Frozen Menzel herself

Olaf, my Disney crush

And so, my kids crossed something off their bucket lists. We all did. Several days later, I can still picture those glorious balloons floating by, the exuberant marching bands, the clowns happily tossing confetti (one took off Ben's hat, dumped some in and put it back on him) and the look of pure awe on my children's faces. 

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Great gifts for kids and teens with disabilities 2019: holiday gift guide


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.


Hey Clay Animals (Hey Clay, $15.95)
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.


Giant Slinky (Slinky, $10.38)
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.


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


Doinkit Kids Magnetic Dart Board (Marky Sparky, $29.99)
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.


PlasmaCar ($69.99)
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


Yellies! Voice-Activated Spider Pet (Yellies, $14.15)
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.


Sphero ($49.99)
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.


Crazy Aaron's Thinking Putty ($9.95 and up)
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.


Mix & Makeup Whipped Body Butter (Alex Spa, $15.30)
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 designa 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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