She's non-verbal, and her interests are...eccentric (at best). I used to get really sad when someone asked me this question. Now, with a few more years of autism parenting under my belt, I generously proffer these guidelines.
Here's what Little Suzie wants for Christmas:
- Nothing that you will find appropriate, typical or sensible.
- Probably something different than what she wanted yesterday.
- If another kid her age wants it...try again. She doesn't.
- Something that is not sold in ToysRUs.
- If she unwraps it just enough to play with the curling ribbon and sleeps with it, consider it a success.
Please also adhere to the house rules:
- Give nothing with more than 3 parts because:
- She will lose interest if it requires time to build.
- She will lose or break a part and scream for a couple of weeks.
- She will be annoyed that it has an even number of parts. Or an odd number of parts. (We'll just have to wait and see.)
- Check the age recommendation carefully:
- Yes she's way past 3, but if it specifies that it is not meant for children under 3, we don't want it. She probably will eat it for lunch.
- If it's intended for children her age, it's likely going to frustrate her.
- So something appropriate for kids between ages 3 and 7 (but over 70 pounds) should be about right.
Hope that helps.
Of course we want to make her happy. Don't we all remember the joy of unwrapping the Barbie Dreamhouse or Matchbox Car Track we'd been eyeballing for months? (The kids in the commercials were having soooo much fun!). We want to see the same excitement and twinkle in her eye as she anticipates and opens the gift of her dreams.
Unfortunately, while other children might present you with lists so long you'll regret asking the question, some children with special needs (and their parents) cannot give you an easy answer. And, if a request does come, it may not match your own, preconceived holiday vision.
Can we make a pact to NOT be ashamed to gift that box of dental floss if that's really, truly what makes her happiest? I mean, if it makes her feel just as loved, appreciated and special as the day you received your very own Barbie Dreamhouse, what's the harm? Isn't that the point?
Even better, we won't have to stand in line or battle any Black Friday shopping savages to attain it!
If dental floss isn't your game, here are some related posts and shopping ideas that might also help your gift quest. Happy holidays!
- If the kid has an iAnything, you can't go wrong with an iTunes gift card. (And if they don't already have one...!)
- Recommended reading: Finding the Right Gift / Childswork
- A nice compilation from The Friendship Circle: 11 Online Toy Stores for Children With Special Needs.
- Toys That Don't Suck (full disclosure - my Amazon store site. It's lame, but check it out anyway, k?)
- http://toysforautism.com/ (That is, if you want to go all educational and therapy-ish. There are a multitudes of similar sellers out there, so shop around if you are going that route.)
- ToysRUs has a much glorified Differently Abled Toy Guide...although I'm not sure this actually is updated anymore.
If you have the perfect gift idea, do let us know! Also, what's the oddest gift you've given that brought the biggest smiles? Please share. It will make those of us pricing out bales of hay feel MUCH better.
By the way, I also blog semi-regularly over at My Whac-A-Mole Life. We're open 24/7. Stop by anytime.