Katherine is the mom of a son with autism and a graduate of an advocacy and self-advocacy organization for people with disabilities.
Easter Basket Ideas for Kids With Special Needs
When I was a child, Easter morning was filled with jelly beans, chocolate bunnies, and a search through the house with clues that I had to decipher before I could find my basket. My son, though, is autistic, and doesn’t understand the abstract nature of clues (unless they’re on Blue’s Clues), he doesn’t like the texture of most candy, and he’ll only eat chocolate if it’s in chip form as part of a cookie.
And we’re not alone. The traditional Easter basket, full of candy, is often not an appropriate “treat” for many special needs children who either can’t have or don’t like the candy. So what can you do instead?
Picking an Easter Basket and Easter Grass
Some children don’t like specific textures, especially kids with sensory difficulties. Instead of a traditional basket, look for other alternatives. You can find soft baskets made in the shape of various popular characters, including SpongeBob Squarepants and Thomas the Tank Engine. You can also find buckets, like the one in the image. While it might not be the “traditional” basket, it works just as well, and it has the same meaning.
For the grass in the basket, the plastic shred may not be the best choice. For children who like to put things in their mouths, or for children who don’t like things that are too sharp, there is also paper Easter grass. The paper is softer, just as pretty to look at, and safer for those children who eat things they shouldn’t eat.
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Children with special needs don’t always want toys that are age appropriate or even Easter appropriate. While pre-made baskets have all sorts of goodies in them, and while the “Easter toy” aisles have Legos and Hello Kitty and other cool stuff, kids on the spectrum may not be ready for them or enjoy them. Instead, it might be worth it to check out party stores and even catalogs or websites like Oriental Trader.
Some toys that you might consider including in the basket might be bubbles, Play-Doh (or an equivalent), fuzzy chicks, and sensory toys (squeezable ducks, as pictured above). Remember that you don’t have to build a basket that anyone but your child enjoys. Focus on their interests and their preferences.
Luckily, more and more parents want treats for their kids that don’t involve sugar. Because of that, companies have responded. It’s easy to find Easter basket snacks that aren’t candy-based. You can get pretzels and Goldfish in mini bags with little Easter decorations.
And if those aren’t your child’s cup of tea (so to speak), then check out the normal snack aisle and spend a few extra dollars on the pre-packaged snack size so that it can go into the basket easily. You can even get gluten-free snack-size items to stuff the basket with.
Presenting the Basket
Instead of trying the hide-and-seek method of basket presentation on Easter morning, go relaxed! No hunting. No clues. Just a simple, "Happy Easter! The Easter bunny brought this for you!" My son may not understand searching for an Easter basket, but he knows who the Easter bunny is, and he is happy enough to get the basket and celebrate Easter in his own way.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
roselinsojan from India,Kerala. on August 30, 2016:
Good informative and interesting article.