Lessons in Special Needs Parenting: Christmas Gifts!

This week in “Lesson” I have a special Christmas update.  For those of you who have children without speech or who do not direct, start or engage in conversations, Christmas shopping can be a nightmare.  What does my child want? What does my child specifically NOT want?

While some things are easy (I’ve never seen a kid turn up their nose at an iPad, for example), some things may resist defining.  What will bring your child comfort and joy this holiday, and not only that, but show that you are a thoughtful parent who “gets” them?

I was lucky to have this question answered this weekend by two things we did:

  • Bring the kids to Target (or whatever store you love).
    We had errands to run and they were there, so we dropped by the toy section – which was on our to the exit.  Well, you didn’t have to be a rocket scientists to notice which toys Amelia completely snubbed – and which made her say, “Ooo, look at that!”  High on the list that made her breathless was a new bike.  Here’s where I intervened…I’m a sucker for the Barbie aisle and there was a Merida doll – with a bow and arrow this time!  I remember when the Merida doll was released at Disney she didn’t have one.  Now that we have the video, which Amelia loves, I plunked the doll down and she picked it up and put it in the cart. (Smooth, kiddo, real smooth.)  There is a Merida doll on someone’s Christmas list!
  • Bring them to the hobby shop.
    If you’re a family that does train collection or enjoys remote control vehicles,  no holiday is complete without a stop by the hobby shop.  Ours has a neat toy section, where Zoe made herself comfortable at the lemonade stand, and Amelia went pointing out the coolest trains.  (She found a George Washington train, which prompted my husband to consider collecting the presidential set.)  Because these toys are unique, you can really hone in on what your child is attracted to, especially if there are displays set up. Also, these shops are way less crowded than your giant toy or Disney store this time of year.  I avoid those with kids if possible!
  • Observe what they’re watching and doing.
    When Zoe curls up with the iPad (I almost wrote “her iPad”…not!), she like to watch things about cooking.  Specifically, videos of cooking toys that function especially if they are tiny.   Plus both kids have become enamored of trying to help me crack eggs (with varying results, lol) and mix batter.  Amelia is now a master with the whisk – there isn’t anything she won’t whisk.  Seriously, a bowl with batteries in it?? Time to whisk!  The upshot to this is all these clues get me targeted on some really neat items I’d like them to have so they can learn to help me!

Without further ado, here is my Christmas list:

Merida kicks ass!


Disclosure: If you make a purchase using the link on this page, I may earn a commission and I am very grateful for your support of my site. 


Yes, we have Barbies. Shut up. You’d have Barbies too if it was one of the first toys your child ever played appropriately.

This or something like this:

Actual tools they can cook with and aprons.  Because I need help in the kitchen, ya know!!  And because they have to stop stealing my stuff, apron included, when I’m cooking :)

There’s other stuff too, stocking stuffers, cameras if I find them cheap enough, and we have a laptop.  But they give me all the hints I need to help them buy what they love.  All you need is to pay attention (just like you’d like your hubby to do when you drop hints!)

How do you figure out what your kids want for gifts if they don’t speak? Share your tips!

Disclaimer: all links are my Amazon affiliate links


    • admin says

      Yes, they are! Thanks…I know Barbie gets a LOT of backlash, and it’s very un-feminist of me to like her. But I have good memories of inheriting my sister’s, and toy that teaches my kid is a keeper! I’d LOVE to collect but..Hm, don’t know why I dont, lol!

  1. says

    These ideas are great! Another suggestion I have, is to look online with your child and let them show you that way. This is a good process for parents who may either do their shopping online or may not have the time to visit different stores. Obviously the best options are the ones you have suggested, but online stores may be helpful for some. When your little one smiles and points at the product on screen, chances are you’ve got yourself a winner.