My daughter, the Diva, has ADHD, Mild ODD, and anxiety (all diagnosed) and I think she has SPD and might be autistic. We always struggle with over-stimulation, toys and games feeling “weird” and not wanting to play with them, and of course lack of sleep. We still have sleep problems, it’s a continuous work in progress, but for some of the other things we found ways to help with some things and they might help you too. So if you are looking for gift ideas for kids with different/special needs read on!
In this list, which is something new I’m doing, I will show you a few board games and a couple of items or toys that we feel would work great for other kids who have different needs. Some I’ve reviewed (Link in the name if there is one)and some I haven’t but we have used, tried or played all of them. So tweet questions to @MyGeeklings if you have them. Company site links are the company name and if you click the Amazon link you can purchase it there. (Affiliate link – doesn’t add anything for you but helps me out a little) Let’s begin!
Sleep is a constant battle for pretty much any parent at one point or another but if your kid has different/special needs of any kind it can be a whole new type of battle. Fabrics, comfort, nightmares, you name it. Here are some items we have used that have helped or still help my kids and the issues they had that they helped with.
CozyPhones – Kids Headphones
Cost: $18.97 | Amazon
Great for kids around 4+ and adults with small heads
These are amazing. They are “Volume Limited with Ultra-Thin Speakers Soft Fleece Headband” and my ultra sensitive to sound and things touching her ears, daughter loves these. She has the Unicorn and we’ve tried a couple other types but there was always an issue with size fo the headphones part but these are small enough that she has no issue. They are soft and come in a large variety of animals and a few characters kids will love. The Diva needs music or noise to fall asleep. We are currently trying relaxing natural noises like ocean waves or rain from an app with these. I’ll try to keep you posted if it helps but the CozyPhones are comfy and after she gets them just right she is good for the night with them.
No Sew Blanket – Fleece material
Cost: Varies – You can make one yourself or buy kits. | Amazon
Great for anyone who likes soft warm blankets that have a little weight but are not a weighted blanket. I have ODD and anxiety and insomnia and made myself one of these and sleep a lot better…not great but better. My whole family has one or two of these and if you make them yourself go to Joann Fabrics and use coupons to get fleece soft and comfy fabric. Let your kid pick their pattern and bottom color or pattern, cut slits and tie into knots. So easy and they add a bit of weight but a whole lot of comfort for anyone. Both my kids are sensory seekers and this type of blanket helped a LOT with this and anxiety as well.
Shark or Mermaid Blanket Cozy
Shark: Varies but about $30-$40 | Amazon
Mermaid: Varies but about $20-$40 | Amazon
My son has the shark one and it is soft, fits him great at 10 but they have a larger one for older kids and teens (my husband wants one) and it feels like a constant hug which calms him he says. My daughter has the mermaid one and while she doesn’t use it a lot (blanket works better for her) she also says it feels like a hug but is a bit bigger for her yet. It is soft inside though but not fleece. The Amazon page says “lush butter soft cloth” It is super soft inside but smooth shiny feeling…if that makes sense outside. My son sleeps in his and my daughter is starting to as well but they both like to use them randomly for homeschool or lounging.
Just some random type things that have been helpful for my kiddos.
Ark Therapeutic – Chewelry Necklace
Cost: Varies but about $14.99 | Amazon
Great for anyone who fidgets with their mouth, or chews on things.
My son has always had to have something in his mouth..not sure why or what but only diagnosed with anxiety but he usually chews his fingers. We bought him a blue pendant and it has helped enormously. You can find other types and even fun ones. He also has a Hook like Maui’s from Moana. When he watches he twists cords from headphones or chews on them so this one necklace has lasted about 2 years and saved us a lot of headphones and cords…
Night Light that projects stars
Cost: Varies depending on Style | Amazon
Great for anyone who has trouble falling asleep in dark rooms or need something to focus on when laying down.
The one I linked on Amazon is not one we used but one we would have used if we could have. We found a cheap purple night light that you push in to turn on or off. A giant button that had stars on it. The light was a soft white and projected stars in the dark. It wasn’t bright and ran off a battery. The one from Amazon does a lot more and while we never used it looks like it is a bit more than the one we did use and might actually try in the near future. My Diva, again, cannot fall asleep easy and her brain doesn’t seem to turn off…ever…so the stars helped for a bit there. In the RV it is a bit harder to use one of these though.
Some of our different/special needs kids want to play board games but don’t do well with sounds, pressure, distraction during turns, arguing with siblings due to sensitivity and a whole lot of other issues that can come up. Games should be fun and stress free. Here are a few of our favorites that work great for my kids…and my sanity.
Smart Games – IQ Twist
Cost: $9.99 | Amazon
Great for ages 6+
No timers or pressure. Starts at easy levels so low frustration. Answers in the booklet and easy to follow instructions on set up for each puzzle. Also, only single player so no issues with other players that can arise. I know one of mine gets accused of cheating a LOT and the other gets distracted on their turn so the game can drag on sometimes. The pieces are plastic but smooth.
Peaceable Kingdom – Feed the Woozle
Cost: $19.99 | Amazon
Great for ages 3+
Feed the Woozle is a cooperative game that gets kids moving. If you have a kid who NEEDS to move this is a fantastic game. We loved this game when my kids were younger. It was a favorite for a long time. It helps with gross & fine motor skills, dexterity, counting, reading a die, taking turns, working together and boosting teammates confidence. Use the silly spinner or make up your own moves. Everything is smooth chipboard or plastic.
iello – Fun Farm
Cost: $23.99 | Amazon
Great for ages (our recommended age) 3+
Soft squishy animal toys
This game is so cute. The normal rules have you grab quickly the correct animal based on dice rolls, however, we used it for animal identification and no rush grabbing the correct animal. We started with identifying animal noises and the kids would grab the correct animal. We took turns. Eventually they would roll and grab the right animal based on their roll and then make the noise for fun. You can adjust this game for you kiddos based on what works for them. The animals are soft foam but if kids bite they can be torn so watch for that.
Calliope Games – Tsuro
Cost: $30.00 | Amazon
Great for ages 3+ with adjusted rules.
Tsuro is a game of paths and lining up a path for your dragon token to follow. Some kids cannot stand that amount of disorder and some just love following the lines after you lined them up properly. I have kids who don’t mind the squiggly lines everywhere but love lining up tile so their dragon token can follow it to the end of the line. I will say that if you have a kid who HAS to have things lined up neatly do NOT play games with tiles like this one. The tiles move around a bit although Calliope is coming out with a board that can hold the tiles in place which is awesome.
It isn’t a huge list, but hopefully even one thing on this list will help you like it helped us. If you have questions or suggestions let us know in the comments or tweet at us @MyGeeklings. Good luck parents!