With Chanukah and Christmas both fast approaching, many people will be thinking about the perfect gifts to buy for their friends and family.
If you have a loved one that has ADHD, the upcoming holidays are an ideal opportunity to demonstrate your love and support for them by choosing a gift that might just help them to manage the day-to-day challenges that ADHD can present.
So here are my top gift ideas to buy for the person you love who has ADHD. As ADHD can manifest in so many different ways, I have selected items across a wide variety of areas, so hopefully there is something in there for everyone!
I will start with gift ideas for kids and then move on to some great ideas for adults too!
For each item I have provided a link to a website where it can be bought. Please note, I have no particular affiliations to any of these sites and will not profit whatsoever from any purchases you make.
My top 10 gift ideas for kids with ADHD...
When it comes to kids with ADHD, there's only one place to begin... Fidgets!
I've written about fidgets a lot in the past, and about the variety of opinions on whether they actually help kids to focus at school. The science says that they DO help but only when used in a way that doesn't become a distraction to the child, their teacher or their friends.
These are my two top picks for school-friendly fidgets...
Putty is a wonderful fidget because it is completely silent and can be held in the hand, under the child's desk, completely out of anyone's sight. It is an ideal way to keep a child's hands busy and brain stimulated without stopping them from focusing on their teacher.
I recently came across Crazy Aaron's putty... these guys are the royalty of the putty world, with dozens of different colours, textures and even special effects! My personal favourite is this 'Create Your Own Colours' kit!
2. Bouncy Bands For Chairs
Who says fidgets are only for fingers?! These firm but bouncy bands can be wrapped around the legs of a child's classroom chair and provide them with endless stimulation, without anyone even knowing it's there! What makes them especially useful is that they leave both of the child's hands free to use for writing or other practical activities.
Now, when it comes to toys and games, kids with ADHD are often blessed with superhero levels of creativity and they just love to build things. They thrive on activities that provide instant feedback, where they can see the fruits of their labour taking shape before their eyes. With that in mind, here are some of my favourite toys and games...
3. Snap Circuits
Sometimes you come across a new toy and just say 'wow'! Snap Circuits are a range of kits that teach children the principles of electronic circuits in an exciting and hands-on way. Each set comes with a plastic base-board and dozens of modular parts that simply snap into place. A single kit can have up to 500 different projects to build, from an FM Radio to a digital voice recorder and a burglar alarm!
Kids can follow the included instruction plans to start with and then, as they develop their skills and understanding, experiment with their own designs and ideas! Kids with ADHD yearn for that sense of reward that comes from successfully completing a project and the opportunities here are endless.
4. Coding games
Coding is now recognised as one of the most important skills for any young person to acquire and there are plenty of games that can help to do this.
People with ADHD often have excellent problem solving skills (perhaps a by-product of our tendency to get ourselves into problematic situations ☺), which can lend themselves very well to the lucrative world of coding.
Two multi-player board games that have caught my eye are Littlecodr and Coder Bunnyz. Both teach the basic concepts of coding and can be played in numerous ways, to remain engaging for players as their coding skills progress.
And for solo coders, there's really no better place to start than with a subscription to CodeMonkey, the online coding game that's all about helping the monkey to catch his bananas. There are 400 levels of increasing difficulty and eventually the children gain enough skills to create their own original games! And there's a 30 day free trial if you prefer to try before you buy...
5. Magnetic Tiles
The beauty of playing with magnetic tiles (which come under a variety of different brand names) is that they are just so simple to build with. I have 4 kids aged, 1 to 10, and their box of magnetic tiles is the one thing they all love to play with. Huge and impressive designs can be built, destroyed, and re-built in a matter of minutes. There are no instructions and it's impossible to make a mistake, which makes this a perfect toy for kids with ADHD, who can so often be little perfectionists!
6 . The Stomp Rocket!
Whilst educational and creative toys and games are, of course, wonderful, sometimes kids just want to have fun and let off some steam. And, for that, I've found no better toy than the awesome Stomp Rocket! Kids with ADHD love to observe cause and effect and they never tire of the thrill of stomping on the launch pad and seeing their rocket soar up to 200 feet into the air!
Now moving on from toys...
7. The Cadex 12-Alarm Watch
Timekeeping can be a total nightmare for kids with ADHD. Not only can they be forgetful and disorganised, they also find it exceptionally hard to judge how long an activity takes and are therefore constantly late for everything.
The Cadex 12-Alarm Watch was originally designed to help elderly people remember to take their medication but it's widely regarded to be the perfect watch for a child with ADHD.
The alarm can be set to ring 12 different times each day, to remind children to do anything from take their meds, to packing their schoolbag with the correct books, and the beauty is that for each alarm you set, you can also programme a short text message to appear.
Parents love it because, rather than having to constantly nag their kids to remember to do chores, they can set very specific reminders on the watch. Children appreciate it because often their intentions to complete their tasks are good, but they get easily distracted and these gentle reminders really help to get them back on track!
Did you know that ADHD is often accompanied by one or more other disorders, usually referred to as comorbidities? For example, many kids with ADHD also experience problematic symptoms in the area of sensory processing and these can manifest in a number of ways. The next three ideas are especially for those children...
8. Tagless T-Shirts
This is one topic that sends shivers down my spine. As a child I had countless episodes of hysterical crying, triggered by unbearably uncomfortable tags on my clothes.
My parents and teachers were bemused, confused and most likely quite amused by my suffering, and I just remember feeling like no one understood!
Fast forward 30 odd years and, thank goodness, there is now so much more understanding about children with high sensitivity to sensory input.
This awesome website sells t-shirts that are completely tagless, just for people like me! Oh and their shirts are customisable too, which is perfect for those 'phases' when your child outright refuses to wear anything that doesn't feature the poo emoji (I wish I was joking).
9. Teeter Popper
Sometimes we see the opposite effect, or what we call 'sensory seeking' behaviour, whereby our kids just crave sensory input.
As you may know, in my 'other life' I work in the educational toy industry and if there is one company that produces incredible toys for sensory seekers it's my good friends at Fat Brain Toys.
And one of the best examples is the Teeter Popper. Kids can sit, lie or stand on it. It stimulates the senses, builds core strength and improves balance, stability and gross motor skills, while all the time providing a satisfying popping sound, just like an everlasting roll of bubble wrap!
Sensory seekers can often be found satisfying their need for stimulation by chewing (and often chomping to destruction!) their clothes, pencils and other non-edible delicacies!
Chewelry is a range of non-toxic, fun and discreet jewelry made from durable materials that are safe to put in your mouth and just perfect for those who love to chew! I've found two great ranges of chewelry for you to browse through, here and here!
And now... My top 7 gift ideas for grown-ups with ADHD...
There are not many products that I can genuinely say have been life-changing for me but my Livescribe smart pen undoubtedly has - I just wish I had one when I was a student!
ADHD and forgetfulness tend to go hand-in-hand and we feel the need to religiously write down anything that we don't want to forget. The problem is that our desks, cars and kitchen counters turn into an avalanche of notepads, scraps of paper and sticky notes.
Livescribe changes everything! Anything I write with my Livescribe pen is saved to the cloud and instantly accessible on my phone and iPad! And what's more, there's an audio record function so when I'm in a meeting and don't want to have to scribble down notes, I simply tap the record button and know that I'll have a playback of the entire conversation to return to at a later date.
2. Aqua Notes
There is only one problem with my Livescribe pen - I can't take it in the shower! And as everyone knows, sometimes that's exactly where the very best ideas are born! Where before I'd have struggled to retain the details of my new idea until the end of my shower, I can now avoid any risk of forgetting it by jotting it down with Aqua Notes - my personal waterproof notepad and pencil that sticks to the bathroom wall with suction cups!
Being forgetful also means losing things... all the time! If the adult with ADHD in your life is constantly misplacing their most important items, treat them by attaching a Tile to whatever it is they keep losing and downloading the accompanying app. Hours lost searching down the sides of sofas for keys, phones and TV remote controls will become a thing of the past.
4. The Right Cup
This one is for the sensory seekers among us adults. We all know that water is the only truly healthy thing to drink but for some of us, the lack of taste makes it just too boring and we find ourselves drawn to sugary, unhealthy juices and sodas.
The Right Cup is a fruit flavoured cup that tricks your brain into thinking that the plain water you're drinking is actually a fruit juice. It has to be experienced to be believed but I personally own the peach flavoured cup and can confirm that it really does work!
5. The Spinner Ring
Fidgeting benefits adults in exactly the same way as kids, but sometimes when you're in a meeting or social occasion, pulling out your favourite fidget cube or spinner doesn't always go down too well! This is why I love these super-discreet spinner rings.
Worn like regular rings, they have an outer layer the spins smoothly and silently around your finger, to provide endless secret stimulation!
People with ADHD are curious beings, with a thirst for knowledge, and yet trying to read a book can feel like wading through a 3 foot deep muddy swamp. Every word on the page acts as a potential trigger to a tangential thought and individual pages often have to be read and re-read numerous times before anything is absorbed.
Audiobooks are tailor-made for people with ADHD and a subscription to an audiobook service (such as Audible.com) is the gift that will literally keep on giving. Not only will it enable them to engage with more books, it also provides a stimulating addition to other activities that can be painfully mundane such as long journeys or doing the dishes.
People with ADHD often have irregular sleep patterns and Clocky is the perfect gift for those who find it that little bit harder to wake up in the morning!
You set it like a regular alarm clock but when wake up time arrives, it rolls off your bedside table and scoots all over your bedroom floor, whilst screeching loudly of course! The only way to stop it is to jump out of bed and chase it around the room and by then, you're most certainly wide awake!
So those are my top gift ideas for Chanukah and Christmas this year. Do you think I missed out any must-haves? Let me know in the comments... Happy holidays!