Don Peek – Gift Giving and Special Needs Children

Gift Giving and Special Needs Children

While it’s true that many people who have a mild disability come much closer to being hindered rather than incapacitated, I can assure you that for most disabled people, their disability is much more than a hindrance.  Many live lives that revolve around their disabilities, and whether they are limited either physically or mentally, they are ashamed of their limitations.  I didn’t say they should be.  They will seldom admit that they are, but trust me on this one, they are.
It doesn’t matter if you are the last to be chosen in a pick-up basketball game or the worst oral reader in your class, being below normal hurts, and it typically hurts deeply.  

I mention all of this to give you a word of caution when you purchase or make gifts during this holiday season.  Giving gifts to people with disabilities that draws attention to those disabilities can be extremely hurtful.
I guess the best example of this would be buying board games, toys, or video games for a mentally challenged middle school student when it clearly states that it for ages 3 and up.  True, that student might not be able to handle Monopoly or Risk (at least without hours and hours of help and explanation), but he can certainly read that small signal for age-appropriateness on the box and be highly offended by it.  To him it is a “baby’s game” and far beneath his dignity, especially when opened in front of others.
You can certainly make a mistake on the other side by buying gifts that are obviously too advanced for a mentally challenged person.  When you buy a really neat magic set for a young girl who likes Harry Potter, but she can’t read the directions well enough to even get started or doesn’t have the eye-hand coordination to begin to do the simplest sleight of hand, your gift will be a real ego crusher.
Living every single day of your life with a disability is tough.  Don’t make it tougher on the person by giving gifts that draw attention to that disability or make them feel worse than they would had you given them no gift.

What would be my gift suggestions?  I’d try to concentrate on gifts that are popular within the person’s age group and yet totally appropriate for the disabled person.  You might give the girl who likes Harry Potter the complete set of Harry Potter DVD’s, or at least her favorite ones.  You could give the boy who doesn’t want Candy Land either Jenga or Electronic Battleship.  Be sure to let him know that these are some of your favorite games, and you want to play them with him as soon as he likes.  I can assure you that the time you spend will be worth far more to him than the gift itself.
It’s always nice to give people gifts during the holidays.  For the most part, they are appreciated for the effort if not the content.  Just be especially careful when giving to children with disabilities that you don’t draw attention to their disabilities or embarrass them in any way with your gift.

Grant Notice:
Grant Name:  USGA Alliance Grants
Funded By:  National Alliance for Accessible Golf
Description:  Grants support organizations which provide opportunities for individuals with disabilities to learn and enjoy the game of golf and its inherent values. The Alliance and the USGAshare the belief that the game of golf is exceptionally well-suited to allow individuals with disabilities to participate in a recreational or competitive activity with participants who have various types of disabilities as well as those who do not have disabilities. We encourage inclusive programming – opportunities that allow participants with disabilities and participants without disabilities to learn and play the game side by side.
Program Areas:  Disabilities
Recipients:  Public School, Other
Proposal Deadline:  None
Average Amount:  Up to $20,000.00
Telephone:  812-320-1126
Availability:  All States

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