Updated: Jan 28
by Jaycee Miller
Experts say choosing the right gift for a child with learning disabilities comes down to a few key points.
“The most important factor should be having fun,” says Sheldon H. Horowitz, EdD, a senior advisor for the National Center on Learning Disabilities. “Positive emotions (especially strong responses like joy and surprise) engage brain networks in miraculous ways … leads to motivation and determination, perseverance and resilience.”
PerformanceHealth.com, a company that makes and distributes products for children with learning disabilities, recommends asking the child’s parents about the gift recipient’s interests, likes and dislikes, abilities, special needs and developmental age to make the most appropriate gift selection.
Horowitz offers many gift suggestions for children of various ages that have been diagnosed with several common pediatric learning disabilities:
Dolls and play people, rhythm toys and books “that are easily held and read aloud” may be suitable for 2- to 4-year-olds with dyslexia.
Books that contain “rich vocabulary [and] detailed illustrations” and games that allow words to be broken into components (eg, prefixes and suffixes) may be a good fit for 5- to 8-year-olds with dyslexia.
Spelling games and crossword puzzles may be apt for 9- to 12-year-olds with dyslexia.
Squeeze balls and soft fidget toys may be suitable for 2- to 4-year-olds with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
Games that develop people skills, like turn-taking, and others that enable strategy development may be a good fit for 5- to 8-year-olds with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
Games that emphasize using newly learned words may be apt for 9- to-12-year-olds with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
Play scales with many different sized items and shapes may be suitable for 2- to 4-year-olds with math difficulties.
Talking calculators or items with timers may be a good fit for 5- to 8-year-olds with math difficulties.
Rulers, compasses and protractors may be apt for 9- to 12-year-olds with math difficulties.
Large snap-together blocks or a light plastic toolset for tightening screws and hammering pegs” may be suitable for 2- to 4-year-olds that have problems putting their thoughts on paper.
Smaller snap-together blocks or items that encourage teaching and drawing shapes like circles and squares may be a good fit for 5- to 8-year-olds who have problems putting their thoughts on paper.
Typing keyboards or different sized pens and markers may be appropriate for 9- to 12-year-olds that have problems putting their thoughts on paper.
Large crayons or painting supplies may be suitable for 2- to 4-year-olds that have difficulties coordinating things.
Colored paper and glue or safety scissors may be a good fit for 5- to 8-year-olds who have difficulties coordinating things.
Musical keyboard or rhythm instruments may be good for 9- to 12-year-olds that have difficulties coordinating things.
There are many organizations dedicated to helping others understand learning disabilities that can help select a gift for a child with learning disabilities. Some of them also have online stores that may spur additional gift ideas.
Jaycee Miller is a freelance researcher, blogger, and writer living in New Jersey.