Christmas is a beautiful time of year.  Whether you’re of the Christian persuasion or something else, it’s a nice holiday. 

Charity abounds, there’s ‘jolly’ in the air, time off work for most of us, gifts are exchanged, and school holidays too – aside from the expense of all this fun (which we complain about, Scrooge-like, from mid-November until the day itself), what’s not to love?

If you have a child with special needs, you know the Christmas gift dance well. 

It’s the one where you start thinking about things you could buy for your child that are developmentally appropriate or that they’re physically capable of enjoying, and then the phone calls start coming in. 

Grandparents, aunts and uncles, friends and family from near and far – they call in a panic, asking for gift advice. 

Pretty soon, any brilliant ideas you’ve come up with (and it’s tough for us too) have been suggested to everyone else and you’re back to square zero for yourself and the jolly fat man. 

The Christmas gift dance happens if you’re lucky.

If you’re unlucky, nobody will call and your child will receive gifts that they can’t play with, or that are too young for them. 

This can be really upsetting for parent and child – and gift-giver, too, since nobody does this on purpose.

So… what is the solution? 

Should we as parents speak to everyone who is likely to buy a gift for our children and politely ask whether they need any ideas?  

Should we just make a list and farm out the items? 

Should gifts be therapy-based or should we just aim for toys without agenda? 

Since Charlie doesn’t really have any understanding of Christmas or of presents, would it be wrong to ask people to chip in towards a therapy aide we really need instead of buying toys or books or clothes?

I wish I had the answer to this question, but although we have three older children for whom we provide gift ideas all the time, the ‘Special Needs Christmas Gift Dance’ is a whole different animal. 

I’d love to hear from some people who have a little more experience – what do you do when it comes to ensuring that your child has a magical Christmas too?

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