Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Gift Quandry

One of the more difficult things for me during the holidays, and apparently for other families I have heard from who have children with significant disabilities, is deciding on gifts for those children. The yearly debate seems to focus on whether gifts should be chronologically age appropriate or developmentally age appropriate. I’m sorry to say that I don’t have a good answer and debate this issue constantly myself.

Here’s a scenario presented by one family – the family has a 21year old son, I’ll call him Michael, who has Down Syndrome. Michael lives at home with his family, is in his last year of high school, and doesn’t have much of a social life outside his family members and their friends. Michael adores Mickey Mouse cartoons. His family knows he would be very happy to receive Mickey Mouse DVDs as a Christmas gift, but they are reluctant to buy him something that is so chronologically age inappropriate. In past years, they have bought him clothes, DVDs the whole family enjoys, and music CDs to which the whole family would listen. Michael is happy to receive those things, but it wasn’t really what he wanted.

I have the same dilemma with my oldest daughter. Jessica is 21 years old, but cognitively and developmentally is more like 6-7 years old. She loves baby dolls and Barbie dolls. She also likes getting girly clothes as gifts, and she would also like Disney DVD’s. Like Michael’s family, I don’t want to stigmatize her with things her friends and peers would ridicule, but I also would feel bad not giving her a gift that she truly wants.

How have other families handled this issue? What recommendations would you have for families like mine and Michael’s?


Anonymous said...

I am 31 and I love receiving Disney movies. I see nothing wrong with buying something that they truly want.
My parents buy Disney DVDs for both my sister and I for Christmas/birthday. My brother is 21 and still requests Thomas the Train DVDs. I see nothing wrong with buying something they want and will enjoy.

Lucy Cash said...

It wouldn't even occur to me to look askance at those items; Disney movies are the bomb, and there are some collector Barbies that are almost stunning.

I have a hard time finding "historical and Presidential items" my 10 year old will enjoy, and sometimes I think about only getting him whatever all the other 10 year old boys get, but deep inside I know he would just feel confused and like I didn't "get" him if I did. And so I remind myself that we all are kinda weird; some of us are just better at embracing it.

I would absolutely get her presents you know she will like, and feel good that you know her well enough to know what those items might be.

Just the Tip said...

I think it's about what will make them truly happy not what the typical version of themselves would want.
I would never think twice about getting them what I knew they truly enjoyed even if it were wildly inappropriate for their age.

Kate said...

Get them what they love. If there are people in their life who will stigmatize or ridicule them for any reason, then these people should be educated, corrected, and not allowed to be mean in the first place. The holidays are not about being age-appropriate, they are about being happy. And if anyone looks askance at you about that, just ask them how age appropriate gold and myrrh, whatever that was, for an infant.

schnitzelbank said...

To me, gift-giving is about bringing joy to the recipient. Bring joy.