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? 

18 responses »

  1. Andrea says:

    Would love for someone to take O to therapy. Just one of the 5+ weekly appointments I didn’t have to go to. Then, I’d have a nap. A blissful, luxurious middle of the day nap.

  2. There’s one that didn’t make your list… babysitting/respite care. The most invaluable thing in the world is someone who will say, “I’ll watch your kids for you tonight,” or even just a couple of hours. It’s hard to get out for manis and pedis when no one steps up to provide childcare in the meantime. I’ve had friends offer the gift cards to expensive restaurants and the like that were useless to me because no one wanted to watch my three children so I could go on a date with friends, or just have some precious alone time. When I do selfishly hire a babysitter to attend these things, the babysitter often costs twice as much as the certificate for the activity, and so therefor I feel that the money spent on the certificate for the activity was a waste for them, when they could have saved their money and offered a little bit of their time instead. I’d love to receive a simple paper hand-written that says, “This entitles you to one free night of babysitting at both of our earliest convenience” as a gift from a friend. I might have to go all Martha Stewart and bake them a cake or something.

    • Sorry, I thought of one other thing too… Movie passes are always a hit with me. They can be used either for those selfish nights that I try to sneak away with my fiance, or to treat the whole family to a matinee in the cheap seats. Next to a babysitter that is the best gift ever!

  3. As a single parent of 2 special needs children the things on your list would sound great to me… Also like another post said house cleaning, a friend to come into the home and help in the times that are stressfull like in my home mornings and homework time, raging time. Someone who could be there for the other children when the special needs child is out of sorts for mine that is the rage stage (more than a meltdown). Someone to just suprise you with sound childcare and sweep you (the mom) away for a day of what ever that she would not do for herself (lunch, hair, shopping, nails) or even just coffee and talking. Sit with the kids so mom could take a shower in peace, take a nap, cook dinner, read a book, go to bible study. Stay with the special needs child who is out of wack on a Sunday morning so mom can attend at least one church service. Bring cooked meal over to give her a break (something that she likes and does not cook often due to the taste of others) pamper MOM put the focus on her and or DAD to make them feel improtant and cared for

  4. cblondie says:

    Organising to get the yard done by a proffesional, another of those things which is so hard to do when you are overtired and stressed

  5. Anni says:

    I love you, I love you, I love you I love you!!!!!!!!
    Thank you for writing this list!

  6. Leona Majesky says:

    All great ideas, I know I would love many of them! Even just someone to come in and watch/play with my son so I could cook dinner without him trying to get in the oven or tearing apart the house!

  7. Joanna says:

    How about creating a punch card for some mommy time…where we watch the kids for a few hours so mom can go sip a coffee in peace.

  8. How about offering to spend a few hours with the kiddos in order to let Mama and Daddy go spend those gift cards? 🙂

  9. jenny says:

    Gift cards for gas as many doctor appointments may be out of town and with the price of gas continuing to sky rocket, these trips are becoming more and more expensive.

  10. Christy says:

    Also the offer of babysitting…..even if it’s just a few hours, whether a Saturday afternoon or Friday night or even Sunday morning so you can attend church if your special needs child requires care beyond what an “average” situation might call for.

  11. Lisa says:

    Excellent! Maybe a giftcard to the local specialty toy store/educational supply store. I have had to purchase several language building games and fine-motor building toys.
    Oh, and a gift certificate for a cleaning service….I love a clean house, but deep cleans are at the bottom of my priority list…

  12. Jessica Savage says:

    A free night/day of babysitting 🙂

    • Rachel Clark says:

      Absolutely. Also, as a parent whose co-parent works long hours and is often away, any daytrips that come with additional adult company/support are very welcome. It means I’m not stressing out about what I’d do with the toddler if N runs off or has a meltdown. I avoid so many places when I’m running solo because I just don’t feel safe/confident enough to take the kids by myself because of the ‘what-ifs’

  13. gettingbyonourgoodlooks says:

    I know I would love those gifts:)

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