Over the years I’ve found it difficult to keep coming up with good gift ideas for BJ. His limited motor skills have made it increasingly hard to find age appropriate presents (I wrote about my struggle with age appropriate gifts here). But we have found some absolute winners over the years. Here is a list of 21 of the best gifts BJ has received either for his birthday or Christmas.
1. Motorised bike
BJ got an adapted motorised bike when he was little. He loved it and it was a great ice breaker with other kids at the park. BJ had no idea about steering so it was back breaking for us running along trying to keep him on the straight and narrow but there was much joy from it. He moved up to a larger one as he grew and once again had no idea of steering but the simple thrill of making it go and moving seemed to be enough for him. Technical Aid for the Disabled converted the bikes from foot accelerators to a simple hand operated one.
2. Motorised car
BJ was given a motorised car and it was a bit hit and miss whether he could press the accelerator for long enough to go far with his foot. It was more like a car kangarooing down the road but he was content to have a pal to drive him around. When we would meet friends at a park it was wonderful to see him not being left behind. Instead his toy was so cool everyone clambered to join him. I think it showed kids that he was just like them because he enjoyed the same things.
3. The Wagon
This wagon was definitely a stand-out gift. BJ loved riding in it to collect the mail, Grandad would take him on walks around the street and chat to all the neighbours and it was fantastic way of bringing about interaction at friend’s houses. The adults probably cursed us as the kids all piled in with BJ and called out for their parents to take them for a ride but hey, that wasn’t our problem!
4. Little Tikes truck and fire engine
BJ was always a little rough on toys and these stood the test of time. He could move them easily and open the door on the side of the truck and pop in other smaller cars. Kids used to sit on them and ride them around and they survived it all. I’ve not seen them in stores in a long time but if they are out there, even second hand, they are a fabulous buy.
5. Shake and go cars
It was always hard to find things that BJ could make work by himself. These shake and go cars were brilliant. The slightest movement and they would take off when put on the floor. BJ would bum shuffle after them giggling all the way.
6. Water trough
This seemed like an expensive purchase at the time (I think it was around $250) but it is still sitting in our backyard so it has lasted forever. It can be used for water play, sand play or coloured rice. We used to pop it in the car and take it with us when visiting friends. Like many of the previous items, we did this because it encouraged inclusion. Kids also love the novelty of something new, so when we turned up with a piece of equipment it would immediately draw them in.
7. Pull string
Pull string talking toys and pull string helicopters were always a hit. BJ couldn’t manage to throw a Frisbee but had great joy in a pull string flying disc. We would still have to steady it but he had the fun of making it go.
8. Magnetic blocks
BJ’s extra movement always made building blocks difficult. He loved knocking them down but never had any success with building them up. Magnetic blocks offered a bit of resistance and gave him the greatest success.
9. Water gun
BJ was so thrilled when he learnt to use this water gun. He used to be allowed to have it in the bath when he was younger but he got to be such a good shot that my Mum (who often helped with bath time) and I both would end up drenched. BJ can’t manage a trigger action but can manage this one that pushes back and forwards.
10. Springfree Trampoline
Although BJ can’t jump on a trampoline he has always been very happy to be in the trampoline with others jumping. Once again it meant he was included and had a chance at interacting with friends and family.
11. Ball games
BJ loves to kick a soccer ball, throw a ball through a hoop and play any kind of ball game. I wish there were more options. A pop up soccer goal makes soccer games more purposeful.
12. A swing seat
BJ can manage to swing himself on the swing seat and it is a great place to sit with Grandad and look at books, magazines or photos.
13. Ten pin bowling and bocce
These two games have been fantastic to take to a family get together, to friend’s houses and appeal to all ages. It’s been a good way to include others and for BJ to have games he can do.
14. A cubby house
We had two cubby houses. A timber one and a plastic one. BJ liked both and he loved being in there with AJ who was full of chatter as her imaginative play came to life.
15. Portable DVD player
Great for hospital visits, long car rides and travel in general. BJ loves his movies so this has had a lot of use. It certainly saved the day when we were recently in hospital for 4 nights.
16. A sandpit
So many of the successful gifts have been ones which encouraged interaction with visiting kids and family. A sandpit big enough for quite a few kids meant that BJ was never left out. Although he couldn’t dig in the sand he enjoyed finding items we hid and being a part of the action.
BJ loves his books and often takes himself off to his room and gets himself up on to his bed with some books.
18. Canvas picture
BJ loves his photos and his family and he has many canvas prints in his room. He loves this as a present.
19. An experience
BJ loves trike rides and buggy rides. They are expensive but when family put in for one he really appreciates it and has a blast.
20. Bike riding fun
Back in the day, when BJ was a young lad, there were no bike seats that were suitable for him once he outgrew his baby bike seat. Hubby and BJ loved riding together so we were keen to find a solution. Hubby fashioned a school seat and welded it to the tandem bike. Thankfully since then other seats have become available and you can now buy the Wee Hoo (or other branded) tandem attachment which has a full seat, arm rest and harness. A great way to have some bonding time. Their rides used to also give me some time out so it was a win-win for everyone.
21. Beach wheelchair
The greatest gift BJ has received has been the beach wheelchair. This has been a gift to the whole family giving us freedom to explore and holiday wherever we like. It has made getting to the beach and into the water fun again.
You will have probably noticed a theme with many of the gifts above. Inclusion and access were always key. We wanted games and equipment which helped BJ to socialise and be a part of the fun. I’d love to hear about any presents you’ve bought or be given that are a winner.