Great Gifts for Special Needs Kids

So when you’re a blogger, you sometimes get invited to fun things and other times you hear about fun things and then call everyone you know to see if you can get an invite. When I heard about a holiday party that would feature a bunch of up-and-coming new toys, I wanted to go SO BADLY. I pretty much never write about products on here, but I know that Christmas shopping for a kid with special needs can be really tough, so I wanted to check out all the goods and see if I could find some good buys for special needs kids. Now I know that I don’t know it all, but I found some toys that I thought would work for kids with various kinds of disabilities. I’m also going to share some of the toys that my family loves that aren’t new–they’re just fun.

Infantino Light and Sound Music Ball. This light ball is perfect for a kid with very limited use of their arms. I live in a raised house and you could set it off by walking across the floor. It would definitely work great on a tray. It makes tons of goofy noises and enough lights for a Mardi Gras float. It’s not perfect, though. First of all, it’s a little obnoxious. This is perfect for a kid who needs a lot of light and noise to be motivated, but it can be tough on mom and dad. The other drawback is that it uses those tiny watch batteries instead of traditional ones. Still, if your child doesn’t have a lot of movement, this is a great toy because just getting close is often enough.

Zsu Zsu Pet. Somebody gave us a Zsu Zsu Pet as a gift and at first I was completely stumped–what was the big deal? Then I let my twins see it. I have two words for you: Giggle. Overload. But how does it work for a special needs kid? Well, I suspect pretty well. We can put it on the tray of a Rifton chair and it scoots this way and that for a very long time before you need to reactivate it. It’s so cute and it will run all over a tray with a lip without going over. We like ours so much I’m giving the boys a second one for Christmas.

Tiny Love Follow Me Activity Toy. A similar toy is one that I saw at the Holiday Helper event I attended–it’s a dog that walks! This little dog was just adorable. A child bats at it and it starts moving. You can even twist it a little so it walks in a circle instead of a straight line. At the Helper event the display dog was pink, but I ordered the more boy-friendly version for my fellas. I think this one is going to be a big hit with all of my boys. I think this would work well for special needs kids because it doesn’t appear to need a real specific touch to get moving. That way, you can encourage your child to bat at it even if they don’t have great aim because of spasticity. The reviewers do mention that the puppy doesn’t walk on carpet–just something to be aware of! He’ll be fine on my plastic wood floors.

Lite Brix Space Trooper. Another great new toy that I spotted at the Holiday Helper event was a robot that lights up. Now, I have no doubt that Charlie would not be able to build this robot on his own. What I like, however, is how bright it is. Since he’s a kid with vision issues, it’s often hard to get him to interact with toys that stimulate the imagination. I have a feeling this one will be bright enough to capture his attention for a while. It does have a battery pack that hangs off of it, which won’t be a problem for us, but might be depending on your child’s activity levels.

 

Step2 Walker Wagon. The final toy I saw at the Holiday Helper event that sparked my interest was the Step2 Walker Wagon. This is one of those classic push toys, but what I like about it is you can add things to it to make it sturdier. We have a couple of push toys in my house that just go, go, go and with August’s balance issues, this was not a good fit. I wish I could find the video I took of him careening wildly across the kitchen barely holding on. With this little Step2 wagon, you can add blocks or other items to make things a little sturdier.

These are, of course, just suggestions based on my personal experiences–you should always do your own evaluation. At my house we are also big fans of gift cards to the iTunes store. Best of luck with your shopping and Happy Holidays!

A Birthday Ramble

Anybody remember when blogs weren’t full of polished entries, but were more of a dumping group for whatever you were thinking at the moment? Well, welcome to 2005 because tonight I’m just rambling a bit.

It’s my birthday and I am now thirty-four years old. Thirty-four! For some reason the even numbers always feel a lot older than the odds.

So I’m feeling a little old, and I’m also pretty sure I’m done having babies, and suddenly I find myself thinking about what my next big project will be. Since the summer I’ve been feeling some rather intense pressure to “pick a lane.” I feel like I know how to do some things, and I’ve got some knowledge and skill, but I have no freaking idea what I should be doing.

I definitely think I should be writing about something. Took me six months to narrow that down. I have a few topics in mind, but I keep bouncing here and there, back and forth, and OH MY WORD JUST PICK A LANE!

Like I said, I think I’m narrowing it down, but it’s hard. In the whining about things that ridiculously not worth whining about department, it’s hard to pick a lane when no one really cares what you do. Doesn’t that sound melodramatic? I guess what I mean is I’m a mom. I’m a mom first and if I find something to do in my spare time, then great, but I could knit, or scrapbook, or whatever. Nobody’s waiting for me to start bringing home a paycheck. This should be a dream, but it leaves me with options–sooooo many options. A lot of options is dangerous. I know–woe is me.

So while I ruminate on what the heck I’m doing with my life–is this a mid-life crisis?–I’ll ask the people who read this blog about theirs. Have you picked a lane? What is it? If you could do anything you want starting tomorrow, what would you do?

This post brought to you by the number thirty-four.

woman smiling with pelican necklace

Maybe now that I’m old I’ll remember to wear makeup and stop taking pictures of myself with my cell phone. . . doesn’t seem likely, though.

 

Postictal

He drools more than he used to.

It’s been almost two months since Charlie’s big seizure–the one that handed us a two day hospital stay and a second medication. Since then I’ve definitely noticed some changes in Charlie and they aren’t at all what I expected.

Probably six seconds after they prescribed that second medication–phenobarbital–I thought to myself, “yeah, that’s not going to work.” I’m pretty sure I was shopping for an alternative before I even left the hospital (gotta love a smart phone).

Phenobarb had been Charlie’s first anti-seizure drug and several years ago I made the decision that it wasn’t working for us. Classified as a barbiturate, I worried that the drug was putting up a wall of fuzz between my son and the world. It was a pretty big move at the time–full of apprehension on my part–but I thought it was well worth it. After we switched to a different drug, he had a visible “waking up” period where he seemed more alert and tuned in.

Obviously I didn’t want him to go back to living in a fog, so I knew that as soon as possible, we’d be getting him off of Phenorbarb.

Thing is–he’s been incredibly happy since the seizure. He laughs more and complains less. He smiles so much more. He sleeps better too. He regularly sleeps straight through the night and if he does wake up, it’s easy to get him back to sleep. Slight variations in routine don’t destroy him like they used to.

boy crawling

Not the most flattering image for anyone, but look at him!

Perhaps most importantly, he’s started making some really great advances physically. He’s getting up on all fours and he crawling. Crawling! Some bunny hopping too, but some real-deal crawling. It’s amazing. And then the other day he picked up a sippy cup and used it better than he ever has before–there’s usually a lot of chewing and dribbling–this time he did it perfectly. I said tentatively to my husband, “I think he’s better than he was before–don’t you?” and he quickly agreed.

I guess I’m going to have to get used to the drool.

Postictal is a technical term that describes the period directly following a seizure–usually no more than a couple of hours. I took a little poetic license in naming my post this.

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