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17 Cool Gift Ideas For Aides And Therapists

17 Cool Gift Ideas
For Aides And Therapists

Giving your kids' classroom aide, therapists and other support people a gift is a wonderful way to thank them for all the hard work they’ve put in. They have a super hard job and the pay is crap (really, it’s shameful), so a little appreciation goes a long way - and unlike the teacher, they usually don’t receive a lot of gifts.

So whether it’s Christmas, the end of the school year or their birthday (heck, why not just randomly surprise them one day?) here's a bunch of cool ways to say thanks.


1.  An interview scrapbook

Make your gift a souvenir of the time they've spent together. Prompt the kids to relive memories with questions about the things they've done over the year:

  • Miss Thompson is funny when...

  • I like it when Miss Thompson does...

  • Miss Thompson taught me to...

You might be surprised at some of the answers! Compile them into a scrapbook with drawings, photos or work samples.

2.  Photos 

Don’t just put one lonely picture in a frame, make a series with a shot from each month or the beginning and end of the school year to show how far the kids have come.

3.  A poem

Okay, I know it’s corny but sometimes these people become like second parents to your kids and that kind of dedication requires some rhymes. My son Max had the same aide for nine years and when it came time for them to part it felt like saying goodbye to a family member.

4.  A letter

Gifts don’t have to be expensive. A heart-felt letter of thanks describing all the ways that they’ve helped will mean so much more than a World’s Best Teacher mug.

5.  A symbol of achievement

When your kids have a moment of huge success or finally reach a long-awaited goal, celebrate it and recognise the therapist’s contribution with a gift that’s related. One year Max sprang to life when they studied Japan, writing his first spontaneous piece of fiction and producing tremendous works of art. As a show of thanks I gave his aide a Japanese tea set.


6.  Gift vouchers

Okay this one’s not unique but everyone loves them, especially struggling grad students. Book stores, iTunes, movies, coffee shops, the supermarket (maybe a restaurant or hotel for those therapists that have been with you for a while) will all be appreciated.

7.  Something fun

The school year can be a stressful one so make a ‘holiday survival kit’ - fill a box with mini bottles of alcohol, a book voucher, bath bomb, chocolates, candle... and seal it with a sticker that says 'open in case of vacation'.


8.  Something for the home 

These guys are often young grad students who are just starting out, so they’d really appreciate useful stuff for setting up home - things that are nice to have but out of reach when you’ve got so many other things to buy. Funky measuring cups, cookbooks, a plant in a pretty pot, cool framed poster, gift voucher to Ikea...

9.  Fuel card

Therapists do a lot of driving to and from clients' homes or schools, and it’s not always covered as part of their salary.

10.  Books and journals

No need to tell you how much there is to read and learn about autism, so help them to keep up by giving them ebooks or online subscriptions to science or education magazines and journals.

11.  Therapy toys or equipment 

Did you know that a lot of classroom aides and therapists (not to mention teachers) have to buy this stuff out of their own pocket? Again, shameful. It doesn’t have to be expensive but it all adds up, so grab a basket and fill it with things like bubbles (speech therapists will love you), matchbox cars, balls of all kinds, plastic animals, picture books, play-dough, balloons, plastic foods, people and action figures, toy furniture, stacking rings, puzzles and anything that makes noise or does stuff when you interact with it (e.g. Jack in the box).

12.  Something to carry therapy stuff in

Phew, that’s a lot of stuff to drag around (not to mention all the paperwork too). A funky bag with lots of pockets and storage space or one of those wheelie cases would be greatly appreciated.

13.  Stationery supplies

As with therapy equipment, classroom budgets dry up early in the year and teachers often end up having to buy a lot of their own stationery. Head to the dollar store and stock up on the basics or have some fun with cute paperclips, funky post-it notes, fancy hole punches or craft supplies like glitter glue and fabric pens.


14.  Cookies

Who doesn’t love cookies? Whip up a batch of your family favourite and include the recipe.

15.  Winter treats

Make a batch of really indulgent cocoa mix, throw in some cookies, toss it all in a paper or cellophane bag and print a sticker that says ‘keep warm over the holidays’.

16.  Recipe book

Collect all your favourite family recipes (or ask for one from each class member) and compile them into a photobook or handwritten journal.


And maybe the most useful one of all...

17.  Letter to their employer

The best gift to them might be something you give to someone else. A raving letter of appreciation sent to their boss or supervisor might help them to get promotions and payrises, look great in their portfolio and just generally be a wonderful boost to their self-esteem.

This article was first published in May 2012.

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