Buying holiday gifts for kids with developmental disabilities can be tricky, experts say, stressing that it’s key to consider the individual’s abilities, interests and needs before making a purchase.

For children with special needs who may not be ready for the same toys as their peers, variations of popular items can be a good fit, says Julie Brinkhoff, associate director of the Great Plains Center, a disability resource center at the University of Missouri. Small Legos, for example, could present a struggle for some, while larger Duplos could offer a good alternative.

It’s also important to keep gifts fun rather than therapeutic or educational since items that highlight trouble areas could prove frustrating, Brinkhoff says. She advises talking to the child’s parents to get a good sense of their interests and to gauge whether a gift will be appropriate for their ability level.

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“You aren’t buying a toy for a kid with a disability; you are buying a toy for a kid,” Brinkhoff said. “For kids, the holidays are times to get what they want, not times to get a toy that will ‘fix’ them.”