Ideally, the holidays should be a time to load up your child with wonderful playthings that will attract his attention, ignite her creativity, and give you and your youngster opportunities to play and learn to grow together. That's the dream, right? The reason we buy the big toys, the ones that our kids wind up wanting to play with the boxes they came in instead? Sometimes we strike plaything gold, sometimes we strike out, but at least we're trying. Worse are the gifts given by family members who seem to deliberately ignore our kids' special needs and give things well out of the range of their ability and interest -- the 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzles, the million-tiny-block construction sets, the games of strategy and sneakiness, the stuff that's age-appropriate only for the developmentally on-target or advanced. The stuff that goes into a closet and never comes out.
If you still have hopes, here a week before Christmas, of wrapping up just the thing that your child will adore, or of cluing family members in about things your child will actually enjoy, check my articles on "Finding the Perfect Gift for a Child With Special Needs" and "Six Simple Gifts for Your Child With Special Needs"; suggest that family members give your child iTunes cards (like all the other kids in their life, so it's "typical-development approved") and then use them to start an iTunes account for your child or buy some developmentally appropriate apps or stories; and print out some fun coupons to stuff a stocking with things your child can really use, like release from time-out or your undivided attention. Have you had some gift-giving success? Visit the Readers Respond pages to share the best gift your child has ever received (and, alas, the worst).