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It hardly seems possible, but my son with Angelman Syndrome will be a teenager next year. Buying gifts for Owen has always been a challenge, but as he gets older, it becomes even more so. I don’t want to buy him “baby” stuff, but everything needs to be safe for him.
So in honor of Owen, I wanted to share some gift ideas for an older child with Angelman Syndrome. These are all things that Owen either owns, or has used in other settings. They’re all large enough to avoid going down his throat, hold up to his mouthing, and hold his interest – at least for a little while!
If you have a child with Angelman Syndrome, and are wondering what to buy for their birthday or Christmas, I hope this list inspires you!
So a while back, we bought a smaller scale play parachute for Owen to use with his sibs.
It’s a fun activity for the whole family. Owen loves sitting in the middle while everyone else raises it up and down over him. He also loves just rolling himself up in it if no one else wants to play right then.
By far, Owen’s favorite possession is his iPad. He can interact with it, hold it as close as he needs, and take it with him in the car and on the go.
Making the iPad Owen safe took some experimenting. We tried multiple cases, and still wound up with some cracked screens. Thankfully there’s a place in Spokane that fixes them up for not that much. That was a blessing to find, let me tell you!
Here is our FAVORITE case for our Angel. It doesn’t need the drool wiped out as frequently as some of the others we’ve tried, and it protects the screen even with frequent dropping.
It’s the Otterbox Defender, and it’s worth every penny. Just make sure you get the one that’s compatible for your iPad generation. I made the mistake of ordering the wrong one once, and it didn’t turn out well…
Add life to any party with a bubble machine! All my kids enjoy watching (or popping) the bubbles. Add a little bit of music, and you’re good to go! 😀
I like this one because it’s got a wide base and is a bit harder to tip over. We enjoy taking it outside in the summer and letting bubbles fly up high.
When the weather isn’t great, we’ll occasionally set it up in the living room. The kids love having bubbles in the house and then we just use the soapy wetness to clean the floor when we’re done. 😀
Owen is sort of rough on clothing. Though he can walk, crawling is still his primary mode of movement in the house.
When he was a toddler, the clothes were built to hold up to crawling. The knees were double-enforced, and they lasted a lot longer. Most clothes for older boys aren’t as durable, unfortunately. So Owen almost always needs clothes.
These are a good gift for extended family to purchase, because I don’t have to worry so much about him getting something he’ll choke on.
My absolute favorite clothing ever for Owen were these Carhartt overalls. My sister and her husband got them for Owen a couple years ago, and they were the ONLY pair of pants that have ever lasted well over a year. He finally got too tall to wear them, but the knees were still in good shape. I couldn’t believe it! (And the overall style kept him from diaper digging…)
So I’m a fan. He’s getting another pair for Christmas this year, and I can’t wait to have them again!
And the overalls are cute too, especially since we live on a farm and all.
Water Play Things
Owen, like most children with Angelman Syndrome, loves playing in the water. He hates being outside in the fall and winter, but once the weather warms up he wants to be out with water.
We’ve tried several different sprinklers through the years, but most break easily. They aren’t designed to be pulled on. So now we stick to sturdy, plain sprinklers that hold up.
After some experimenting, we learned it’s best to always have two sprinklers going. That way Owen can play with one all he wants, and the other kids can still run through the other one without getting frustrated. They’ll switch sprinklers back and forth several times while playing.
In addition to sprinklers, Owen loves being in water. But, because there’s a huge drowning risk (especially now that Owen can unlock and open the front door…) we don’t want a large pool. So my parents typically buy Owen a smaller pool, or another type of water play toy, for his birthday.
In the past we’ve had inflatable pools, but they don’t last. The chickens peck the edges and the barn cats scratch it and it deflates within a week. So I’m excited about the pool they got him this year. It’s a snapset pool with hard sides, and holds more water than the traditional “kiddie” pool.
Big Bubble Balls
My dad got the kids one of these bubble ball several years ago, and they all loved them. Owen enjoyed being inside and getting “bumped” by the other kids.
Unfortunately one of my younger kids took it across our driveway and a rock popped it. But it is something we plan on getting another one of someday.
We have a couple of friends with large trampolines, and Owen LOVES them. He’ll just sit and bounce himself slowly on them, and will spend a long time on them.
He really likes it when someone gets up and jumps while he’s sitting, as he gets more momentum going than he can by himself.
My mom is getting one or all the kids for Christmas this year and I’m so excited.
Other similar gift ideas for a child with Angelman Syndrome include slides that are low enough to be safely used, giant tires to crawl through, and anything else that makes the backyard fun (while still being safe!)
Owen really benefits from the gross motor challenges an outdoor play area provides. I benefit from not having to pack up nine kids and go to the park!
Owen has trouble sitting in a traditional swing, but he loves the movement from them. A few years back, Owen’s therapist through the Elks program arranged for the Elks to do a fundraiser for him to get a lycra swing of his own.
He’s been using it ever since! It holds up to 100 pounds, so he’ll still get several years out of it at his current rate of growth. There are also bigger ones available, so if your child with Angelman Syndrome is larger than Owen you might consider getting one with a larger weight limit.
I love the movement this allows Owen to have. He also just like sitting in it when we’re outside.
We removed one swing from our Costco play set and hang Owen’s up in it’s place. Then we take it down before it rains or snows to help keep it nice.
Owen chews on everything. It’s more appropriate (and safer!) for him to chew on chewy tubes rather than his clothes, random objects, or anything non-edible.
So we try to keep a supply of therapy tools on hand to offer him. Since they don’t last forever, we try to get him a new pack at least annually. They make a small gift that he loves!
If your child with Angelman Syndrome doesn’t have Pica, there are tons of different styles of chew jewelry, pencil toppers, and more that we can’t use. But not every child with AS has Pica, so see what your child likes best and go with that.
Music & Movies
Another safe gift for extended family members, Owen really enjoys music. He is a bluegrass kind of boy, and really enjoys listening to music with fiddles.
He bounces up an down as he listens, and just relaxes.
Movies with action and music are his favorite. Even better if there are animals! It’s sort of a difficult combination to meet, but we do our best.
We load a selection of music and movies onto Owen’s iPad using DVDFab and iTunes. Then he can pick which one he wants. He often ends up in the store, so we had to make sure purchases were BLOCKED on his iPad.
What interests your child with AS? Think about different movies you can get. A subscription to Amazon FreeTime Unlimited or Netflix might also be a good gift, so you can stream. Amazon FreeTime Unlimited has plenty of content most of my kids enjoy, so if you have a Kindle Fire tablet, or an Android based phone, this might be a good fit for your family!
You can get a free trial to Amazon FreeTime Unlimited to see if it’s a good fit!
There are some foods that Owen loves that we don’t typically keep on hand. These are an easy gift, and one that I know will get a smile out of him.
As an added benefit, this gift is consumable and won’t take up a ton of space in the house forever! Once he eats it, it’s gone. 😀
His favorite food treat is GoGurt. He likes other yogurt too, but needs help eating it. The GoGurt he can do himself, which is always a good thing.
He also likes red licorice, which is another food he can self-feed.
Are there any special food treats your child with Angelman Syndrome enjoys? Consider giving some as a gift. It’s a good gift for kids of all ages.
What Gift Ideas for a Child with Angelman Syndrome Can You Add?
If you have a child with Angelman Syndrome, what are some of their favorite gifts? We’re always looking for ideas for Owen, especially as he gets older, so I’d appreciate you sharing your ideas in the comments below.