You don’t want to hear this, but it’s true: Global supply-chain problems and labor shortages mean that holiday shopping season starts now (if you hope to exchange gifts before Valentine’s Day). Planning early is not a universal ADHD strength, so we’ve assembled these ADHD-tested gift ideas to get you started. Ready, set, shop!
Most years, we roll our eyes and complain about inflatable Santas popping up before the Halloween candy goes on clearance. But this year, the holiday gift-giving season is entering an especially early sprint — and with good reason. Supply-chain problems and months-long delays for goods from China, in particular, have sent toy manufacturers scrambling, with many already selling out of popular items and others advising consumers to complete their holiday purchases well before Hanukkah and Thanksgiving.
As this holiday season threatens to become a procrastinator’s worst nightmare, ADDitude is here to help with this early gift guide full of presents hand-picked for kids with ADHD. This list includes classic best sellers from years’ past and some exciting new products from our own wish lists. From sensory needs to just plain fun, we’ve got it covered — and we promise your kids will use and enjoy these gifts.
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DreamGYM Doorway Sensory Swing Kit
ADHD kids are often sensory-seeking. Is yours the type who will zone out on a swing set? If so, this swing may help them find their happy place when they need it most: after school, before bed, when homework gets frustrating, etc.
A great source of vestibular input, this doorway compression hammock delivers a calming swinging motion and comforting pressure. That slight bit of lycra will help cuddle your kid close, and its 220 lb weight limit might even support Dad when he needs to unwind. Most importantly, its clips mean easy install — and easy removal.
More clothes — kind of an eye-roll gift, right? Not this. This hoodie vest is specially and unobtrusively weighted via internal pockets to provide that same calming sensation as your kid’s favorite weighted blanket. Best of all, weights can be added or removed; it comes with 2 lbs of weight, but parents can purchase more if their kids would benefit. The vest is also — and all-importantly — machine-washable. Your kid’s eye rolls will stop as soon as they slip it on.
Little kids love beanbags, but so do older tweens and teens: as study space, as gaming chairs, and, for kids with ADHD, as sensory nests. This top-rated beanbag comes in a variety of colors and patterns to match your persnickety teen’s style — and the colors and patterns won’t look hideously out-of-place in your family room.
Don’t be shocked when this furniture becomes a favorite for all kinds of lounging, or when you find yourself using it on the sly. More than just a new gaming chair (which your kid probably wants), this cocoon’s a perfect calm-down spot for those oh-so-frequent adolescent freak-outs.
Some kids listen best when their hands and eyes are otherwise occupied. Others just love arts and crafts. Either way, these throwback velvet coloring posters will scratch that itch while delivering some needed sensory input. And while velvet posters of yore were all unicorns and tigers, these updated products feature mostly mandala-like designs — and coloring mandalas has actually been used as a calming meditation technique for buzzy bees young and old. We recommend including a pack of markers with this present just in case your budding artist has scattered their other markers under the couch, or perhaps forgotten to cap them up.
My 7-, 9-, and (even, secretly) 11-year-old boys still love this set two years after our purchase. These interlocking plastic discs fit together in myriad configurations, empowering and challenging kids to create sculptures in ways that traditional LEGOs simply can’t. They’re good for a solid hour of hyperfocus in our house. And at $16.99, those 500 plastic discs are easily replaceable when they inevitably get lost.
Buy one. Buy two. Offer another set as a birthday present later in the year. Plenty of fidget opportunities — but mostly, your kids will enjoy messing with this new approach to spatial relationships.
When we checked weighted stuffies, this sloth was one of the web’s top picks. As one special ed teacher says, “There is something about the sloth that calms everyone almost instantaneously. I think it is the way that the weight is distributed and that it's meant for hugging.” The weight in the sloth’s arms has parents raving about its huggability, and its zippered pouch lets it double as a discreet backpack.
“I've seen each of my four kids (ages 2 to 11) snuggle up with it already. They have worn it or simply put it on top of themselves while they were relaxing watching TV,” says another parent. Kiddos who benefit from a hug buddy and from deep pressure, especially when anxious, will fall in love with this sloth. Plus, parents rave about Sloth Heavy Hugger; if you’re on the fence, read reviews on the site.
This game’s premise is simple: “Draw what you read, then guess what you saw.” Each player gets a word, draws it, then passes it to the right — and the game of visual “telephone” begins!
This one’s great for family game nights since it’s accessible for young kids, but fun enough to keep teens playing — and with up to eight players, everyone is included and there are few lulls in the action. Your younger kids may want to steal it for sleepover parties, and your teens may even do more laughing and yawning. With its fast pace, it’s also perfect for kids who don’t like to sit and wait their turn.
She’ll say thank you and set it in her lap. Then, as she talks, you’ll notice her petting it. She’ll flip its sequins up. She’ll flip its sequins down. She’ll start to idly draw designs.
These pillows don’t look like much, but your tween won’t put hers down as she watches TV or talks on her phone. They’ll look cute on her bed, and they work great as a sensory toy — both as an inconspicuous fidget for older kids and a calm-down toy for younger ones. This gift is especially recommended for kids with inattentive forms of ADHD, who tend to zone out: flipping sequins can help anchor them as they listen.
Another perennial favorite in my house, this bouncer has seen some rough and tumble use — and it’s taken it all. Little sensory-seekers seem to adore this ball, which stands up to tougher use than those made for younger children — and lasts longer, with a “sustainable weight” of 200 lbs. Kids even like to use it as a seat to watch TV, and when they’re having a tough time. “Go bounce on your ball,” can be a great way to refocus and reorient. Need a quick homework break? Get some wiggles out for 10 minutes and regroup. Your kid will like this one (mine love it), and you’ll like its calming influence.
If your kid is beyond kindergarten, chances are they want these fidgets sometime yesterday. If you’ve never encountered this type of fidget, they’re the preferred type in my house full of fidget toys, and everyone with ADHD — from Daddy on down — likes to carry one around in their pocket. We’re constantly replenishing supplies (ADHD: they get lost), so I know a 15-pack will keep your kid in chain fidgets for the year. They’re silent; they’re discreet — teens will love them for that — and they’re so appealing that I grabbed for one when I started writing this article.
“Kids work to identify what triggers their emotions, analyze the beliefs they have about those situations, explore their reactions, and look for ways to change their thought patterns,” says this game’s description.
It’s based on the ABCD model of cognitive behavioral therapy, so if your kid’s been in therapy, it’s likely a familiar model to them. And if not, rest assured that it’s a proven psychological method for reorienting negative thought patterns. We recommend adults play along to model talking about emotions and help kids feel more comfortable; this top-rated game is recommended for kids ages 6 to 12.