Shopping for an ADHD child can be a challenge.
Our kids are a bit different(I can say this –I have ADHD, too), and often their interests are just as unique as the child. Sometimes, the interests are just like other kids –I mean, who doesn’t like Legos?
Hopefully, these ideas will help you in your gift giving efforts.
Now, I am the first to admit that that most of these ideas are for boys because I have male children. Therefore, my gift-giving experience will be largely a result of giving them gifts.
However, many of these ideas a non-gender specific, or there may be a similar item intended for girls.
This is just a list of ideas based on things that were a big hit at my house or things that my children wish they had but we haven’t actually bought yet. Oftentimes, due to finances, we will end up with an older version or used version of something on their wishlist.
The last few years we haven’t done many gifts in an effort to focus on our attitudes of being thankful for what we have and to focus on giving gifts to others instead of receiving. You can read about that in a post I wrote last year.
• Learning Laptops: My children had one similar to this V-Tech Lightning McQueen Learning Laptop when they were in grade school. It was a hit with both of them. It was great to take in the car, to doctor appointments, or anywhere that we would be sitting and waiting. We had a few different versions over the years. Here is another one that looks like a newer, improved version of the ones we had: V-Tech Tote and Go Laptop. The advantage was that they were learning while we were waiting. Waiting is very hard for ADHD kids. So, it was a win-win situation. If you are interested in this type of laptop, but you want one for a girl, here is a Disney Princess version.
• Minecraft computer game: If you have never been introduced to Minecraft, you are missing out on an awesome thing. Minecraft is a computer-based building game –kind of like Legos for the computer. It can be played as a one person game offline or in groups with other kids online. The collaboration online has been great for my ADHD kids who often struggle to come to compromises. This has been a great learning experience for them as they work with other kids on projects. I screen the other kids they play with online to make sure that the topics of conversation are appropriate. They usually play on private servers with other kids we know from our homeschool groups or church. This game is great for multiple ages. I know kids in grade school who play it and even adults. It can also become part of your homeschool. The game is available on multiple platforms –although my resident Minecraft experts say that the computer version is the best.
• Cartoons:Phineas and Ferb is a great cartoon series encouraging kids to be creative. Phineas and Ferb are two brothers who invent crazy, out of this world contraptions and share it with their friends in the neighborhood. I loved this series as an adult and encouraged my boys to watch it. ADHD kids are often creative and need to be reminded that it is okay to try things (maybe with their parent’s permission, though –it seems the parents in the TV show never really know what is going on which is part of the comedic effect.) The TV show is geared toward younger kids, but –really– it is for all ages. We watched this show as a family.
• Trampolines: We live in the Pacific Northwest where it rains –or drizzles– nine months out of the year. This means that I have some very busy, restless kids who need a way to get out their energy. We have property, so when it isn’t really cold, I encourage them to go play and explore. But, when I don’t want to deal with the mud and mess or when they just need a quick active break from math class to get their brains working again, a mini trampoline like this one has been a lifeline for me. We have owned various styles and sizes rated for different sized kids over the years. The one I linked to is for smaller kids, so just make sure you check the recommended weight to ensure that your trampoline lasts. Now that my boys are older, a mini trampoline isn’t quite enough. They want a full-size trampoline so all their friends can play when they come over. Dr. Russell Barkley, a leading researcher in ADHD, says that one of the single best things an ADHD person can do to help their ADHD is to exercise and that ADHD people should be on an exercise program of some kind. A trampoline is a great, fun way to exercise. They think they are playing, but what they are really doing is refilling their executive function tank.
• Bulk Legos: A child really cannot have too many legos –can they? Well, maybe my boys have too many Legos, but I love how the traditional brick allow them to create, build, and construct. I have loved Legos since I was a child and loved playing with Legos when my children were younger. One Christmas, my husband and I visited a bulk Lego sale and came away with enough Legos to build a pure white castle with crenulations for my boy’s Christmas gift with matching soldiers, king, queen, and knights. It was fun Christmas. Did you know that you can buy bulk Lego bricks? In my opinion, they allow for so much more creativity than what you get in the sets. The sets are just enough pieces for the exact thing you are supposed to build, but nothing more. Many of the pieces simply can’t be for anything else. But, with the bulk bricks, the possibilities are endless. Tired of stepping on Legos? Why not go vertical and add building space on the child’s wall? This would be my children’s dream! We have talked about this but not actually done it. This has been on my to-do list for a while. There are a number of ways to go verticle from this Lego Tape to gluing Lego baseplates to the wall. Every time I step on a Lego, I wish all the Legos were on the wall. This Roll-up Lego Mat is also a practical gift which I am considering giving this year.
• Minecraft Legos: If Legos and Minecraft are awesome, then Minecraft Legos must be doubly awesome! This Lego Minecraft set is a favorite at my house, making at least one boy smile. There are many different sets available and in my experience, a true Minecraft fan would be happy to have any of them.
• Costumes: When my boys were younger, dress-up of every kind was a daily thing at our house. We had a whole toy chest full of various dress-up items. Cowboys and Jedi were among the most popular dress-up costumes. As they have gotten older, it has turned to camo soldier costumes, but I don’t think they have completely outgrown it even as teens. By far their favorite parts of their Jedi costumes were the Hooded Jedi Capes and Lightsabers. My son’s favorite Lightsaber is this Build Your Own Lightsaber. I think you are never too old for a Lightsaber. Even as teens, my kids still have Lightsaber battles –sometimes with their dad. Who can resist making lightsaber noises while waving one around?!
• Learning Lego Blocks: If you have a child with ADHD, there is a high likelihood that this child has a visual or tactile learning style. Although the most common learning style –and that which most curricula are geared toward– is auditory, often ADHDers do not learn that way. I am very visual and tactile. I need to see it or feel it: I cannot just read or hear an explanation. If you have a child like this, you might find that one of these Lego sets –either Alphabricks or Mathbricks would be helpful for your child. These are Lego bricks with numbers and letter which allows the child to use the Legos as manipulatives for learning. This could be a great addition to your homeschool or even to help with homework!
• Nintendo: My boys have a Wii which is an older Nintendo game console, but it is a great source of activity. I like the Wii for younger children because the games available are very child-friendly. Some of our favorite games were the Lego video games in which characters merely popped apart when “killed.” The only downside to this was I had to train my children not to pop apart the Legos in real life because I grew tired of trying to retrieve little yellow hands from the carpet. The Wii U has even more great kid-friendly games than the original Wii did. It is on my children’s wishlist for this year. Wii Sports and Super Smash Brothers are great, active games that have proven popular at my house. If you want something more portable, a Nintendo DS might be a good option. My boys really like theirs.
• Xbox and Kinect: I have never seen my kids as active as they have been playing Fruit Ninja on the Kinect. It is so good for the kids to find ways to be active, and I don’t care how they are doing it. Although many of the games for the Xbox are geared toward older children, there are some great ones for little kids too. We actually have an older Xbox 360 which was used when we got it, but either one is a great option. Remember that keeping an ADHD child active can help with their symptoms.
• Sensory Gifts: Many ADHD kids have Sensory Processing Disorder in addition to ADHD. Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) causes the brain to misinterpret information that is coming in from the senses. There are a few different things that can help with SPD, and what works varies b the child. Weighted items really helped my oldest, and I remember having a friend when I was a kid who liked to chew on things. Weighted blankets are a great option to help calm kids with SPD, and Chewelry –jewelry intended to be chewed on– offers an alternative to chewing on whatever happens to be around them when they are sensory seeking. This indoor Swinging Seat Hammock is an awesome choice for a child with SPD.
• Fidget Toys: There is a disagreement between parents of ADHD kids about if fidget toys work or not. I think this largely because everyone is different and what helps one person might not help another. I find that something to fidget with can make a huge difference in my ability to focus and be patient –depending on the situation. If there is already a lot of noise, or I am super stressed out, it might not help as much. But, I keep fidget things in my purse for when I need them. Today, my fidget of choice was a crochet hook and yarn. I have heard great things about this fidget cube, so I just had to include it in our gift ideas.
• Build Your Own Game: Whether you want to build your own video game, board game, or card game, it seems that Amazon has it all. I have seen my very creative ADHDers create some amazing games! Their imaginations never cease to amaze me. It is so rewarding to design and plan a game –and then actually be able to play a game that you made with your friends and family.
• Drawing Supplies: There is a lot of variety in ADHD. While one of my sons loves building Legos, the other prefers reading and drawing like I did as a child. ADHD people can also be pretty perfectionistic. So, it can be really helpful to have a step-by-step drawing book, like this one from Ed Emberley: The Big Purple Drawing Book. This was my favorite drawing book as a child, and I bought it for my kids recently. The author has a whole series of drawing books geared toward making drawing simpler for kids. I recommend them all! And, once cannot do justice to drawing without some colored pencils. These are good quality pencils from Prismacolor.
• Robots: By far the most popular toy I ever bought for my boys was a robot called Tribot which I found at a Black Friday sale many years ago. It has been a favorite at my house. It drives around and says funny things. My oldest went through a phase where he loved everything robots, but this toy outlasted the phase. Sometimes, they still put it out to play with. We also had a smaller robot similar to this Hexabug but it went missing for a while because the one we owned hid from the light. I found the thing hiding under my couch a few months later! I think most of them are not like that. Either way, robots are a fun toy, especially if your child is interested in technology or electronics.
• Mindstorms: If your child is interested in Robots, then a Lego Mindstorm kit might be something that would propel them toward a career in that later on. Who wouldn’t want to be able to build their own robot?! We bought a used one on Ebay which had issues, so we ended up joining a local Lego Robotics club which was part of the local 4H. There are even local and national competitions for Lego Robotics. This isn’t just a toy. This is an education in a box.
• Rocking and Spinning Toys: If you have a young child with ADHD, you may notice the incessant need to move. We had a very small –700 square foot– house when my boys were little. I made use of any thing I could to get out their wiggles. Here are some things that worked for us. Let’s be honest: a Sit and Spin is pretty awesome. I have seen full-grown adults wrap their legs around that handle and pull as hard as they could hoping to make it spin around –and sometimes succeed! I have great memories from this toy as a child, and my kids loved it. I think we wore through 2 or 3 of them before they were 10 years old. My kids loved to dress up like cowboys, and what cowboy is whole without his trusty steed like this Plush Rocking Horse Pony? I will give you a hint that might save your sanity: this pony makes noise, so we removed the batteries before the boys even opened the gift. They never knew it made sounds, and I never had to listen to it over and over and over and over until I thought I would lose my ever-loving mind.
• Marble Works: This toy is a lot of fun, and brought hours upon hours of fun when my children were young. I love that it requires logic and building skills to make the pieces work together. Even a very young child could be occupied for ages picking up and putting the marble down the path over and over. This Marble Run is similar to the one we had.
• Mythbusters: We are big Mythbuster fans. Although not every topic discussed on the show is family friendly and sometimes there is language (most is bleeped out), we enjoy the science aspect and the quirkiness of the cast. I am convinced that one of the co-hosts, Adam Savage, has ADHD. The show encourages creative, out-of-the-box thinking and makes science fun. Especially for older kids, it is a great option. With over 10 seasons, there is plenty to watch.
• Books with ADHD Characters: It is hard to find books with ADHD characters, but I think it is great to have characters that one can identify with. I remember reading books and sometimes thinking that this person was like me –I had undiagnosed ADHD as a child. Here are just a few book suggestions: the Percy Jackson series (which I have not actually read), the Cory Stories, Little House on the Prairie (Laura had ADHD symptoms), Anne of Green Gables (Anne exhibits classic traits of inattentive type). Sherlock Holmes (although the newer TV show depicts him as a sociopath, the books portray gifted and ADHD), Caddie Woodlawn, Pippi Longstocking, Tom Sawyer, and Huckleberry Finn are just a few more possibilities of book characters who show signs of ADHD. Although my children are not very excited about classic books, we have listened to many of these books on audiobook or read them aloud. The comic Calvin and Hobbes also depicts a child who is either ADHD or gifted –either way he is always in trouble for one of his schemes. My boys were reluctant to read classics, but they willingly read comics.
• Movies with ADHD Characters: Just like the book series, the movie Anne of Green Gables showcases a dreamy, inattentive loveable Anne Shirley who would surely be diagnosed with ADHD if she were in school today. I remember watching the Megan Follows version as a child and thinking that there was someone else like me. Beauty and the Beast is another movie portraying a dreaming, “head up in the clouds” girl who –if she were alive today– would likely be diagnosed with inattentive ADHD. Like Belle, many ADHD people feel like no one understands them. The first time I saw Lilo and Stitch, I pegged her as ADHD/ODD. Lilo is headstrong, smart, a little socially clueless, obstinate, and angry. Even as an adult, I find the movie amusing and even vindicating.
I hope you find this list helpful!
What gifts have resonated with your ADHDer? I would be especially interested in hearing about gifts that help them manage their ADHD symptoms.
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