Gift giving can be both fun and challenging. Few of us are in a position to simply throw money away buying “whatever.” We want to know we are getting a gift that our family or friend can use and will appreciate. This can become even more challenging when the giftee has a disability. Depending on the level and type of disability it may take some creative ideas to come up with the ideal gift.
If you do an internet search on gifts for people with disabilities, you may come up with sites like these:
For teens and young adults on the autism spectrum – https://adayinourshoes.com/gifts-for-autistic-teenagers-adults-special-needs/
For the senior adult with memory or physical disabilities (this is primarily clothing) – https://www.silverts.com/gifts-for-elderly-women-and-gifts-for-elderly-men/
For the pinterest shopper – https://www.pinterest.com/crystallynnklin/products-for-adults-with-special-needs/
Luke 14 Exchange, Inc does not support or receive support from any of these sites. Readers should evaluate their appropriateness.
There are many gift ideas that cost very little and are often in short supply among those affected by disability. Consider these ideas:
- Presence – offer to ride along with a mom on her hours in the car going to therapies, evaluations and appointments. It may be the only time she can get with a friend. Offer to sit with a loved one in the hospital overnight so the mom or dad can get a good night sleep at home.
- Care – Offer care for the family member with the disability, allowing the rest of the family time together, if appropriate. This may mean you need to spend a few hours of time learning the care routine in advance.
- Rides – offer to take the person who can transfer in and out of your car, or for whom that is not an issue to a special event, shopping, church, dinner out, etc. Can you give a ride to a family member who needs to get to an athletic or arts event, or even work?
- Hospitality – so many people affected by disability tell us they have never been invited into someone else’s home. Certainly that can be a challenge if physical accessibility is needed, but it is not a challenge that cannot be overcome. In fact, we once were invited to the home of someone who had 14 steps to their front door. They cleaned out their garage, and carried their dining room furniture to the garage and hosted us for dinner there. Needless to say we felt blessed beyond measure. You don’t have to go to that extreme, but what can you do? Can you purchase a piece of plywood to serve as a temporary ramp for a threshold, if that is the only barrier? Are you willing to let your walls get marked up a bit if someone bumps a corner with their equipment? Touch up paint will do wonders after they have gone. Can you have an outdoor meal? Can you make dinner and take it to eat at their home with them?
- Experience – is your family planning a beach trip? Can you invite a family with disability to join you (maybe even paying for their gas)? By going with others there are more eyes to watch for the child who may randomly run. Going with others also means that a spouse or parent who could not handle a beach wheelchair alone, may be able to get their loved one out to the beach with the extra muscles and energy. Or maybe buy tickets for a family to attend a ballgame, concert, play or another event they would like but cannot afford.
- Project help – Jerry often says that to have him for a friend means there will always be a project you can do. Many families affected by disability would agree. There are weeds to pull, lightbulbs to be changed, vehicles to wash, wheelchairs to clean, minor repair projects, touch up painting around the house and so much more. Give a gift of your time and service to help someone out who lacks the time, energy, skills or resources to keep up with these projects.
Ultimately, remember that most of our friends and family members affected by disability are more like us than they are different. If there is something you enjoy, consider how you can share that. Most of all give the gift of friendship. It seems obvious yet is lacking in the lives of many people who live with disability in their own lives or family. You can make a difference.