Buying thoughtful gifts can be tricky so we have compiled gift buying considerations for sensory seekers.

You may have a child, grandchild, or friend who cares for a child and/or adult with special needs.

If you're wondering what makes a nice gift and then add complex sensory needs into the mixture, then you start to agonise over what to buy.

So, what can you do to surprise someone  in your life with a sensorily gratifying gift and one that they will truly enjoy?

Numerous carers phone us at Sensory Direct on a daily basis asking for ideas about suitable gifts for their loved ones.

Because there are lots of factors to consider, here are 10 key features to consider when shopping for a gift for children and adults with additional needs:

gift buying considerations for sensory seekers light up jarMulti-sensory appeal:

  • Consider if the toy uses lights, sounds or movement to engage the child.
  • Other factors to think about are texture and scent.

Sound, scent and light up toys are not always suitable for all children and adults with sensory needs.

Method of activation:

  • Will the toy provide a challenge without frustration?
  • What is the force required to activate?

Cause and effect is a great way to teach children. For example, what happens if I press this button?

Places the toy will be used:

  • Is there space in the home?
  • Will the toy be easy to store especially when thinking of buying bigger items?
  • Can the toy be used in a variety of positions such as side-lying or on a wheelchair tray?

Opportunities for success:

  • Can play be open-ended with no definite right or wrong way?
  • Is it adaptable to the child's individual style, ability and pace?

Current popularity:

  • Is it a toy that will help the child with special needs feel like "any other child?"
  • Does it tie in with other activities - games, books and activity sets for example?

Self-expression:Play Foam

  • Does the toy allow for creativity, uniqueness and making choices?
  • Will it give the child experience with a variety of media?

Child’s individual abilities:

  • Does the toy provide activities that reflect both developmental and chronological ages?
  • Does it reflect the child's interests and age?

Safety and durability:

  • Does the toy fit with the child's size and strength?
  • Does it have moisture resistance?
  • Is the toy (and its parts) sized appropriately?
  • Can it be washed and cleaned?


  • Does it have adjustable height, sound volume, speed and level of difficulty?

Potential for interaction:

  • Will the child be an active participant during use?
  • Will the toy encourage social engagement with others?

Gift buying considerations for sensory seekers is tricky. To help you choose sensory gift ideas, please follow the links below: