Are you looking for some last-minute gift ideas for your sensory-sensitive child? Assential Therapies has some of our best speech therapists, occupational therapists, and physical therapists ready to help you, and yes, there is still enough time! Whether your kid officially needs something therapist-approved or not, we know that Santa agrees with us about getting something to help your child learn, grow, and develop along with their peers this holiday season. Check out the list below–no need to check it twice–our experts have already approved it!

Physical Therapist: Anna Cylwik, PT, DPT

Click the image above for the Nugget website, and shipping should be 1-3 days!

One toy that I would recommend as a physical therapist is the “Nugget,” which is great for kids under 8 years old! It is an amazing piece of furniture that allows you to use your imagination and build whatever you want. It comes with two long rectangular pieces that fold in half, one is taller than the other, as well as a large triangle. It is great for practicing everything from climbing up and crawling on it, walking on it, or pretending to be any animal you want to be (and then crawling or walking like that animal would)! You can stack them on top and practice climbing up on a big tower, as well as build in some heavy work and help move them around the room by pulling them wherever you want. The soft surfaces also help improve balance, strength, and coordination (navigating compliant surfaces is more difficult for us). There are so many uses for it as it can be manipulated to be almost any height you choose, and if you have more space to spread out, you can buy two or three and make a HUGE obstacle course!

Occupational Therapist: Chelsea Lopez, MOT, OTR/L

You can find Shape Sorting Cupcakes at Target, Kohl’s, Amazon, and more: click the picture to start your search!

For your 18 months+ child, I would pick the Shape Sorting Cupcakes by Learning Resources because they can be used to target motor and speech goals. It teaches colors and shapes, matching and most importantly (from an occupational therapist’s perspective) it encourages bilateral coordination; using both hands together. The cupcake bottoms can double as blocks and stack to help with visual motor skills. It facilitates pretend play, language skills (like labeling, requesting, carrier phrases “I want____”), and you can even use them as your child gets older by getting a little more creative.

You can work on higher skills levels with the addition of household items like string and tongs. The bottoms can double as beads for stringing, more bilateral coordination and visual motor skills. Use tongs to pick them up which builds hand strength, endurance, and motor plans that will be needed for handwriting and scissors use.

Speech Therapist: Mary Stefely, MA, CCC-SLP

Poke-a-Dot books are engaging for even the youngest readers. Click the picture to learn more!

Children are never too young to be read to; reading books out loud help develop language skills at even the youngest age. Adults can provide language models while looking at the book with a child. This can vary from saying a single word, such as “dog” or “quack” to label the picture as the child quickly turns pages, to a phrase, such as “I pop the cup” or “I eat red apples” as the adult and child take turns interacting with the book. When reading and talking with your child, remember not to expect him or her to repeat exactly what we said—instead be sure to provide language models for the child to learn from. Over time and repeated exposure, children often begin using the language we have modeled on their own.

The specific books I recommend for 3-5 year-olds would be the Poke-a-Dot books by Melissa and Doug. Reading these together assists with language development and also fine motor skills, visual skills, and counting. Poke-a-dot books have bright and colorful pictures with opportunities to keep little hands busy while you read together, and I love these for younger children who may not yet have the ability to attend to a story book. These books come in a variety of subjects to appeal to young children’s interests. The alphabet eye spy book allows you to get creative too, because you can always challenge your child to “spy” something else on the page!  

Happy Holidays from all of us at Assential Therapies, Inc.