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15 Gifts to help parents of kids with special needs

It’s nearly Christmas and people often focus on finding the perfect gift for a special needs child — there are tons of articles to help with that — but ignore parents. If the family runs a tight budget, then expenses such as therapists, expensive diets, specialty doctors, medications and services can make for a difficult holiday season. Parents will channel resources into their children while ignoring themselves.

You are going to be their Santa Claus. Plenty of articles denounce gift cards as impersonal or thoughtless, but ignore them! Gift cards offer parents flexibility, guilt-free personal time and a chance to focus on something they need.

1. Free babysitter

This is easily the most important. Often, we can’t ask the local teenager trying to earn money because our child(ren) require more care than a neuro-typical child. Create a certificate offering to sit one night or a punch card offering X number of nights. Find a sitter experienced with special needs children, then gift the parents with the offer to pay.

2. Maid service

Sometimes we are so exhausted that the last thing we want to do is clean. Time off from cleaning would mean we could actually take a long soak in the tub or maybe go to bed before midnight.

3. Laundry service

This goes along with the maid idea. Anything that takes away one of our chores and has someone else do it provides that much more time for ourselves — or a nap.

4. Diapers and wipes

Don’t automatically assume the child is no longer using these; depending on their abilities, they may, regardless of age. You could also gift the automatic delivery of diapers and wipes from places like or so that’s one less worry each month.

5. Gift card for a grocery store

It can be difficult buying for a special needs child due to dietary restrictions or the child’s particularities, so this part of our budget can look higher than a house payment. Any help easing the financial overload is appreciated.6. Gift certificate to indulge— Pick a spa, hairstylist, nail salon or masseuse and encourage mom to take time for herself; do something similar for dad. Give them a reason to indulge.

7. Gift card for fast food or pizza

Some days, by the time we get done with school, work, child care, therapy appointments, doctor appointments and household chores, the last thing we want to do is cook. With budgets stretched so tight, many will suck it up and dive into the kitchen then collapse in exhaustion later, so this can be a lifesaver.

8. Gift card for gas

If you have a QuikTrip in the area or something similar that serves hot, fresh food, then you doubled its worth because we can grab a meal while filling up the car.

9. Gift card for a movie theater

See a movie before it hits DVD? How often do you think that happens? Add in enough for popcorn, drinks and chocolatey goodness then heaven has come to earth. Choose something like Movie Tavern so we can do dinner and a movie; you’ll be a dream come true.

10. Gift card for Redbox

Sometimes, no matter how much we’d like to see the new Star Wars, we’ll settle for renting something at home because after the day ends all we want are comfy PJs and a pillow.

11. Gift membership for Netflix

It’s like the joy described for Redbox, only we don’t have to go any farther than finding the remote.

12. Gift card for Amazon or Barnes & Noble

Sometimes, my sanity is only held together by a good book, when I can have some me time to travel anywhere in the world or to any point in time.

13. Gift card for a restaurant

Find a nice place where they can have a meal and talk to each other without interruption; it may have been a while since they talked and remembered why they fell in love.

14. Gift certificate for a food delivery service

Have prepared meals sent to provide a break from cooking a few nights

15. Landscaping

Having someone help do yard work would be another time saver so they can have a bit more time to themselves. You could even offer to do it yourself.

Helpful hint — If you give anything that requires they enjoy it without kids, you should provide a sitter or check that they have a reliable and affordable one; otherwise, you could end up giving them something they can’t use.

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