Thinking Putty

Finding Gifts for Children with Special Needs

Children with special needs don’t always respond to gifts – or to holiday festivities –  in the ways we might expect them to. Ellen Metrick of the National Lekotek Center shares tips on helping the holidays run smoothly in her article Holiday Do’s and Don’ts for Children on the Autism Spectrum. And finding the right gift for a child with special needs can be challenging. Artbeat specializes in gifts, toys, and art materials that are perfect for people of all abilities.
Sand Artist KitsWild Safari Sand Artist
AblePlay has awarded Artbeat’s Sand Artist kits four out of five stars for kids with sensory, communicative, cognitive and social/emotional disorders, and three of five stars for children with physical disabilities. AblePlay is an online resource that evaluates toys and products that are a good fit for children with special needs; watch for a detailed report on Sand Artist kits out later this month. The focus of Sand Artist kits is to make the process of creativity fun and flow naturally from a child’s ability level; kits have twelve popular themes, including owls, outer space, and butterflies.

Other Great Gifts for Kids with Special Needs:

Arrazzles Construction ToyArrazzles
Imagine, build, connect and play with these 45 dazzling, metallic colored cards. This award-winner has five different patterns of cuts or “slots” that let you create awesome angled arrangements. The hole in the middle of each card allows for further form exploration. Connect the cards by stringing them together with yarn or pipe cleaner. Great for promoting constructional play skills and visual perceptual skills. It’s easy to Arrazzle – just let your creativity loose, imagine the shape and connect!
Follow Your NoseFollow Your Nose
Here is a simple game that fascinates children and adults as they explore our most acute sense: the sense of smell. The game includes 30 distinct aroma diffusers enclosed in child-resistant scent flasks. Match them with the images found on five brightly illustrated game boards. This game is fun, surprising, and relaxing to play – and a great  learning tool!

Thinking PuttyThinking Putty

This fun putty changes color, glows in the dark, becomes magnetic, glitters, or is simply fun to stretch, mold, or shape, depending on the type you choose. It is not only good for hand strengthening and creative play, it is also a great stress-reducer for home, the classroom, and the office. Made in the USA by exceptional individuals with intellectual and physical disabilities.


These fun little suckers stick to any smooth surface, and to each other, and pull apart with a satisfying POP! Soft, made of silicone, they come in eight different shapes for lots of “suction construction” adventures and loads of fun for everyone.Encourages creativity, fine motor skills, interaction, and playful experimentation. Provides relaxation and sensory stimulation.Great for promoting hand strength, working on early language and speech sounds, maintaining attention and more.

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