Guest Author - Monica J. Foster
People with developmental disabilities aren't that hard to think of when buying gifts. A developmental disability doesn't mean that the person can't enjoy toys, games and gifts that are tailored with their abilities and interests in mind, as well as stimulate their developing abilities. Gifts that sharpen visual, cognitive and motor skills are not only educational, but are often very enjoyable as well. Choose thoughtful gift ideas for people living with the challenges of developmental disabilities that highlight special interests and heighten skills.
Some developmental disabilities manifest as delays in motor skills that control bodily coordination. Connecting, blocks, LegosŪ, an erector set, jewelry kits or activity books with zippers, buttons and string can help with hand eye coordination for different ages. For adults, a 3D puzzle or game, mazes, word seek puzzles and mind teasers may also be appropriate depending on the individual.
An individual experiencing delayed language development may enjoy a gift that speak words to them and encourages them to speak back. Look for traditional gifts of the "see 'n' say" variety, or a talking doll for children. Adults might enjoy books on CD until they are more comfortable with vocabulary and appropriate speech patterns.
People with sensory disabilities may be upset by the feeling of changing temperatures, rough textures or even human contact, but a gift can stimulate sensory exploration in a safe and comforting way, such as giving a child a water table, play dough or sand, art supplies or squishy balls. A trampoline might even be of help with the need for repetitive motion and help focus a child that is hyper. For adults with developmental disabilities, musical instruments such as drums might make a nice gift to promote learning rhythm and hone repetive and multi-tasking skills. Electronic gifts with colorful lights or an astronomy kit that enhances observational skills may also be good for a teen or adult with a developmental disability.
Impaired visual perception can frustrate a person with a developmental disabilities because it can cause them to focus on certain things. Giving gifts that require them to explore their line of sight and periphery will help them widen their focus, introduce them to new colors, patterns and objects. An activity book where a child must locate hidden objects would be nice, s well as matching games. An adult may enjoy a video gaming system with a variety of focus and joystick-based games, such as racing, shooting aliens and running through mazes.
Whatever gift you choose, it's important that you keep in mind the gifts the receiver has themselves, not their deficits. And remember that your gift could mean bridging gaps in those areas of their lives where they have difficulty. It just takes a little planning and getting an indication from them what they enjoy and respond best to.