These kinds of lists typically come out in December. But it occurred to me that gift-giving happens throughout the year. You may have a child, sibling, or friend who parents a special needs child and are wondering what kinds of things make nice gifts. You may know of a special needs family struggling and wish there was something you could do to help.
Therapy, special foods, DAN doctors, regular doctors, medications, in-home services, diapers, special beds, special toys, listening programs, etc. cost money. A lot of money. If special needs parents aren’t made of money to begin with, it’s a killer. When you take into consideration that many of us have other children (perhaps young children requiring daycare), money gets tight.
So what can you do to surprise some special needs parent in your life with gift they would truly enjoy or even a gift of help? Well, I don’t actually know all special needs parents. However, I have noticed that many of us are like-minded or, at least, in the same boat. (At the very least, it’s a good place to start for my friends and family, right?) You may notice that my list is made up of a lot of gift cards. I’m a big fan of gift cards. They can be replaced when lost. And, they tend to get used for their purpose. Give a mother plain old cash and she’ll get talked into giving it to her kids. Give her a gift card and the gift goes to her. Or dad as the case might be. So, here’s what I’ve come up with:
1. Gift card for family portraits. When times are tight, we tend to put things like this off just a little while longer. One of the best gifts I ever received was a session for my little one’s Christmas pictures.
2. Diapers and wipes. No, seriously. Some of our children are still in diapers. And some of our children will always remain in diapers. They get even more expensive with each increasing size. Some of our families use specialty diaper sites, so you might want to inquire and then look into purchasing a gift card.
3. Grocery store gift cards. Many of our kids are on special diets. And even more of our kids have food aversion. Some of them will eat only a few particular foods which can get expensive. Since grocery budgets are one of the first things that people try to cut back on when saving money, a grocery gift card would be appreciated by families.
4. A little pampering. Find out who Mama’s hair stylist is. Call her. Ask what Mama would get done if she could have the works – color, highlights, brows, whatever. Write a check for a gift certificate to be redeemed at Mama’s convenience. This is the first thing I drop when money is tight. And the thing I miss the most. If this isn’t something she loves, she probably will still appreciate a gift certificate for haircuts for the rest of the family.
5. Drive-through/pizza gift cards. Many of us have a lot of late days following various therapies and doctor appointments. (My son has seven therapy appointments a week!) On days like this, the last thing you feel capable of is cooking dinner.
6. Theme park gift card. A trip to a water park, Disney, etc. is a distant dream for those on a tight budget. The opportunity to take one’s kids for a family fun day is something special indeed.
7. An afternoon mani-pedi with a girlfriend. This is one thing she won’t buy herself if funds are stretched. Pure bliss.
8. Movie theatre gift card. This can be great for the whole family or just a date night for mom and dad. Hard to go wrong here.
9. iTunes gift card. No, really. Many special needs families these days have iPads and have to purchase the educational apps they download for their kids. Even if they don’t, mom or dad may have an iPod, etc. that hasn’t heard a new song in a long time. This is the kind of treat you forego when tightening budgets.
10. Amazon or B&N gift card. If mom or dad is a reader, then they might enjoy the treat of a new book. It’s a splurge when times are tight, but a thrill for book lovers.
11. Gift card to favorite sporting store, golf course, neighborhood pub, etc. for Dad. Dads, too, need time with their friends or an opportunity to enjoy their hobbies.
12. Gift card to a nice restaurant. For two. Because date night is a needed thing.
13. A night away in a hotel or B & B. After all, sometimes tired mommies and daddies need reminders how they got these special children in the first place. 😉
So, Special Needs Parents, do you have any other suggestions for great gifts?