While working as a pediatric occupational therapist, I would always get the same question around this time of year: “What should I get my kid for Christmas?” The parents wanted suggestions for fun toys that would help their child make progress toward their goals. There are so many toys out there that shopping can be pretty overwhelming, especially if you are trying to figure out which toys would be beneficial! I’ve searched for other gift guides, but typically find they are too general. My goal is to help families find quality gifts that can serve a purpose in their child’s development. (These are only suggestions. Please follow the advice of your occupational therapist to help determine what is appropriate for your child. Also, you know your child- please choose gifts that will be used safely- i.e., no small pieces for a child who puts toys in their mouth.) I have separated these guides by needs, not diagnosis or age, because each kid is so different that age and diagnosis only tells us a little bit.
I partnered with Tools 4 Teaching, a local store in Evansville, to come up with a series of gift guides that target specific needs. This project really spoke to the owner, Julie, because she has asked the same question to occupational therapists regarding her children! As a mom of children with special needs and a former educator, she has a passion for helping families find what they need to help their children overcome learning obstacles and have fun. Julie has offered to give 20% off in-store purchases to anyone who mentions this blog or shows the coupon at the bottom of the post!
This particular guide is very specific. I have worked with a couple young children in the past with very low vision, and finding toys and activities were a challenge. The majority of toys are visually based, so I wanted to create a guide for parents that show toys and items that a very young child with limited vision can enjoy.
Gel clings let light through , but provide a great enough color contrast that some children with low vision may be able to tell what the object is. The gel material provides some tactile input. The child can work on fine motor skills by peeling the gel clings off of the light table.
Textured balls, blocks, and handheld toys provide tactile input at the hands. Children can bring their hands together on the toy and toss, roll, or bring it to their faces.
Each tail has a different texture and the pages crinkle as you turn them for auditory stimulation as well as tactile stimulation.
Music and Vibration
This elephant rattle plays music when shaken! The textured ears are great for feeling and biting.
This large, soft octopus makes noises when you squeeze each arm. A child doesn’t have to see and process where each arm is, he or she can just feel around and squeeze any arm they find to make a noise.
This Music Turtle by Lamaze is perfect for children who have limited strength. A very light touch on the brightly colored toy activates the music.
This little ball pit is one way to get some different sensory input. The way the child sits securely in the pod can help them feel safe and supported while playing with the items you place in there with them.
High-contrast books and cards. High contrast items attract the eyes and can help typical-vision babies focus. However, low vision children are different, so the high contrast pictures might help, or they might not. Consult with your vision therapist or occupational therapist to see if this is appropriate for your child.
I hope this list gives you a starting point for finding the perfect Christmas gift for a child you know and love with low vision!
401 S Green River Rd, Evansville, IN 47715
Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, so many of the links used in this post are my affiliate links. The price is no different for you, but I would earn a small commission on your purchase. If you find the items I have listed at a local toy store, by all means, support your local store!