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Gift ideas for kids with Sensory Processing Disorder

Maria Mora is a freelance writer and single mom fueled by coffee, questionable time management skills, toaster oven waffles and the color orange. She lives in Florida with her two young sons. If you see her on Twitter, tell her to stop p...

Toys that feel good

Wondering what to buy for a child with Sensory Processing Disorder? Don’t stress out. Kids with sensory issues love toys that stimulate without being over-stimulating. Try one of these four fun and therapeutic toys.
Holiday gifts for kids with SPD
Child on rocking horse

If you're not sure what Sensory Processing Disorder is, don't feel guilty. Even parents raising kids with Sensory Processing Disorder, or SPD, are often overwhelmed by the scope of the disorder.

Every child with SPD presents unique challenges, but these four gifts will help you get an idea of the types of toys that provide therapeutic fun for kids with Sensory Processing Disorder or sensory issues.

Hone fine motor skills

Crayola Explosion Glow Board

Many children with sensory issues struggle with fine motor skills. As with any skill, practice makes perfect. Developmental toys that encourage children to practice fine motor tasks help incorporate therapy into playtime. Shop for toys that involve precision, such as Lego building sets or beading projects. Art sets are also great for fine motor skills, especially for children who need to work on proper pencil grip.

Try: The Crayola Color Explosion Glow Board (Toys "R" Us, $16) from Crayola helps fine motor skills.

Develop gross motor skills

Twister

Occupational therapy for kids with Sensory Processing Disorder consists of therapeutic play to help kids improve sensory integration. Gross motor skills include simple activities like jumping, running and catching a ball. Shop for toys that get kids active and moving. Skip anything too complicated and look for basic items such as large bouncy balls, dance music for kids and play forts.

Try: Go old school with Twister (Hasbro, $17) for a game that encourages kids to move and cooperate.

Discover games that develop social skills in special needs kids >>

Stimulate the senses

Scooter board

When you're shopping for toys that promote sensory integration, try checking in with parents first to get some basic ideas. What one child finds soothing, another might find distressing. You don't have frame the question with mention of the child's sensory issues. Just ask what she likes and dislikes. Mini trampolines, rocking toys and swings are usually great and very therapeutic for kids with SPD.

Try: Scooter Boards (Fun and Function, $19) help kids develop balance and spatial awareness.

Calm and soothe

Buddy the Monkey

Have you ever felt fidgety or bitten your nails? Many kids with SPD fidget as a means of tactile stimulation or to calm and focus. Look for toys that kids can fidget with, like small moving puzzle toys that spin or twist. In this case, skip purely therapeutic toys like chewable jewelry that might embarrass a child when presented as a gift. For younger kids, shop for plush toys with weight and texture.

Try: The Cozy Plush Buddy the Monkey (Amazon, $20) can be warmed up in the microwave at bedtime.

Learn what parents of special needs kids wish you knew >>

More on special needs kids

5 Ways to prepare for child's IEP meeting
Signs of autism and everyday life with an autistic child
Special needs kids and well siblings

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