Around the holiday’s/birthdays parents, family members, and friends are always asking us about developmentally appropriate and productive gifts,  We have seen many good ideas, and many terrible ones.  Children with communication and social challenges should STAY AWAY from electronic and cause and effect toys that light up, make sounds, or do anything the child can become self-involved in or use repetitively.  Here are some suggestions of what you could get a child with developmental, communication, and social differences.  We have broken down the suggestions by the 3 main types of play children engage in at different stages of development.

Holiday/Birthday Toys

Sensory Play

The child is stimulated by sensory input that supports regulation and interaction

Object-Based Play

The child uses objects in play that encourage interaction and movement.

Symbolic Play

The child uses their imagination & creativity within pretend play to build  

Scooter to ride outside or scooters that mom and dad can push child on. Melissa and Doug music set Melissa and Doug costume/role play sets (ADLs, GM, FM, Ideation)
Hoola hoops for jumping in, rolling, etc. Hoola hoops for spinning, twirling, or hanging as a hoop etc. Hoola hoops for creating spacial awareness of places (a trap, house, or school)
Finger paints Basketball hoop Playdough sets (FM)
Trampoline Edushape tactile sensory ball Melissa & Doug sweep set (GM, Ideation)
Large Parachute Large Melissa & Doug building blocks Large building blocks OR city/neighborhood blocks
Tunnel to crawl through Big pin bowling set Crayola window markers to draw pictures and stories together
Tent to retreat for a break Tent to play hide and seek Tent for pretend places
Yoga ball to roll kids on their tummy, bounce on, squish Yoga ball to roll, kick, and throw Play food sets – with tools to cut, use spoons, etc. (FM, ideation)
Soft weighted balls Stepping balance stones Kinetic Sand (FM, Tactile Play, ideation)
Lycra body sock (can be used as a hammock) Bwealth Aqua Magic Mat