Super Gifts for the Senses

You'd be surprised how often people ask for my advice about what kind of present they should buy for a child with special needs. 

Birthdays and Christmas only come around but once a year and other milestone events happen once in a lifetime, so it's important to make your gift one that will light up a child with additional needs' eyes and be used frequently, whilst aiding their development in a fun and gentle way. 

Find a present that will delight, educate and develop the senses

So with that in mind I asked you, our Downs Side Up readers, for present ideas that have been popular with your children and added in a few things Natty has particularly loved. 

Sensory and Physical Development

Sensory play and story guru Joanna Grace, suggested this Big Bug Massager by Tiger. She said that sensory seekers love the feel of the bugs legs as they massage their scalp or back. They come in a variety of fun, colourful mini beasts which everyone adores. 

Massage helps to sooth and calm

Babies find focussing difficult and it is debated as to whether they can see in colour or not. Bold black and white, high contrast images and geometric shapes will attract their attention. This Baby Shapes book by Helen Dorman allows you both to bond over their first reading experience. 

Develop your baby's focus and attention with a high contrast book

Playing in the bath is a brilliant time to encourage fine motor skills - Natty still loves the Helping Hands Fine Motor Tool Set by Learning Resources which includes little scoop that require a scissor action and droppers that require squeezing.

For children who don't like the feeling of their hair being brushed, Tangleteezer hairbrushes are a godsend. They somehow melt through the hair, removing knots without tears. 

Hairbrushing can be a challenge for children with sensory issues

If your child suffers from sensory overload and has meltdowns as a result, a sensory gadget or weighted shoulder wrap can help soothe and calm. This tactile snake is also soft and fun.

A weighted snake can soothe during a meltdown

A lava lamp can also be very calming. Natty loves having one in her room at bedtime and watching the shapes slowly move as she drifs off to sleep. So much more restful than tech in the bedroom. 

A lava lamp can help children drift off at bedtime

Get Moving

A Firefly Portable Activity Playpak is a big investment but a fantastic set of tools to help a child's physical development. Ideal for early intervention therapies at home or on the move.

Playpak is an invaluable physiotherapy kit

I'm not sure if Natty was alone in pulling arm bands off and trying to jump straight in to any pool before she could swim. It caused me huge anxiety and put me off taking her to the pool before I discovered the Puddlejumper swimming aid which can’t be taken off as it does up at the back. Swimming is now her favourite pastime.

Puddle jumper provides a safer alternative to arm bands

Looking Good Builds Confidence

Everyone loves to look cool and it's important for first impressions too. The DRM Project has created a long sleeved T shirt which features the logo Superkid on the sleeve so that it won't be covered up by chest straps if your child is a wheelchair user. Genius!

Super kids wear their logos on their sleeves

Natty and her big sister Mia have always been a fan of Frugi organic clothing. Soft, excellent quality and stretchy the garments are cut to suit round tummies.

Mia and Natty model for Frugi

These unisex parsnip pants have soft elastic at the waist and ankle, ideal for sensitive skin or children with tubes. 

Soft stretchy trousers fit the bill

An A-line tunic and leggings are perfect for little girls. They are a great investment as a dress gradually becomes a tunic topic.

Comfy dressing with leggings and a tunic

Learn about your family

Many children are visual learners and this family tree wall sticker will provide a beautiful way to learn about those close to them. You simply add pictures of family members.

A family tree wall sticker helps visual learners.

A talking photo album such as this one from Lamaze allows you to store photos and record the names of those featured. Each image is hidden under a butterfly wing for added interest.  You could even include photos of favourite items as a way of developing vocabulary.

Fun for kinaesthetic learners

Wishing you many hours of play and fun and enjoying time with your child and we look forward to hearing your suggestions. 

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