Hanukkah

Hanukkah Gifts for Kids with Special Needs

I was really excited to shop for Benjamin’s Hanukkah gifts this year. Not just because he deserves them (and really, he does—the kid works so hard, and he’s been making amazing progress lately), but because only recently does he seem to actually understand the concept of presents.

Okay, so maybe I’m underestimating him—it’s possible he just didn’t care about receiving them in the past. Maybe because Benjamin, who’s autistic, knew the thing in the fancy box wasn’t candy, a TV, or a computer. Or maybe presents didn’t seem special because, in an effort to pump up his limited play skills, we’d buy him anything he seemed remotely interested in throughout the year (you should see our basement).

Anyway, watching him accept and unwrap (all by himself!) the marble run my friends got him for his seventh birthday this September made me just as happy as watching him play with it.

Don’t tell Benjamin, but here’s, a list of gifts he’ll be opening this week:



1. Another
marble run
(so we can make the birthday set even bigger and better). Benjamin isn’t generally very into building things, but he loves watching the marbles slide down the ramps and twirl through the wheels—so much so that he’s actually motivated to help put the pieces together.

2.
Dominoes
. Same idea here—I think he’ll gladly line them up once he sees what happens when they go down. Plus his little brother Zachary has been begging for this.

3.
Pirate Tic Tac Toe Water Game
. I hadn’t seen these mini fish tank-like things since I was a kid, but our developmental pediatrician keeps a few in her waiting room and Benjamin was instantly drawn to them. This will join the squeezy, textured objects in his fidget bag, which we give him when he seems to need to keep his hands busy.

If you’re shopping for a child with special needs? Here are a few more ideas.

1. Bouncer trampoline. Apparently jumping provides Benjamin with some kind of sensory input. I’m sure that’s true, but to me it just looks like a lot of fun.

2. Cranium Cariboo. I love this game. It’s great for working on matching and fine motor skills, and the treasure at the end never ceases to be exciting.

3. Moon Sand Toy Story 3. This moldable sand is not for my mom those afraid of a mess. It comes in many colors and themes, but isn’t Toy Story stuff just



so appealing? I know Benjamin thinks so.

4. Melissa & Doug Deluxe Ice Cream Parlor Set. A yummy way for kids to work on pretend play skills.

5. Learning Resources Teaching Cash Register. Another good pretend play toy, with (bonus!) lights, buttons, and numbers.

Jana Banin

Jana Banin is a freelance magazine writer and blogger. Her work has appeared in Parents, Time Out New York Kids, Ladies’ Home Journal, Parenting, Babytalk, Marie Claire, and other publications. Before writing mostly about little kids she wrote mostly about teenagers, working as an editor at both ym and Seventeen magazines. Jana lives in Brooklyn with her husband and three kids. She is currently writing a memoir about raising a child with autism.

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