Spoonie (People With Disabilities) Gift Guide 2020

Sara Hagen
7 min readDec 8, 2020

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There are hundreds of gift guides cropping up during this time of year. Many of us either have a chronic illness/disability or know someone who does, so where are all of the spoonie gift guides? Truly a missed opportunity and not very inclusive! Whatever your budget, here is a guide for all of the spoonies in your life. Treat us! We’ve had an especially trying year.

Disclaimer: Everyone has different levels of pain, mobility, learning, etc. Each of these gifts will suit some better than others. Also, all opinions are my own. I have not partnered with any of these companies.

If possible, please avoid shopping on Amazon this holiday season. Support small and minority owned businesses instead. I will provide links to everything below!

Experience/Non-Material

Maid Service Gift Certificate — Cleaning takes a lot of time out of our days and some of us experience chronic pain that limits cleaning time and ability. A gift certificate to give back that time would be a perfect way to show someone you love them. You can purchase gift certificates to Molly Maid and Merry Maids, national housekeeping services.

Streaming Service Subscription — More and more streaming services are cropping up every day; the monthly bill of all of them can get pricey! Gift your spoonie loved one (or yourself!) a subscription to Criterion Channel, Disney+, Showtime, Apple TV, CBS All Access, Brit Box. Annual subscriptions range from $60- $180 per year.

Massage/Spa Gift Certificate — This is especially perfect for people who experience chronic pain. Hit up your local spas and massage parlors and ask about gift certificates. Make sure to verify that they can accommodate people with disabilities and allergies!

libro.fm Subscription — This is a perfect way to give an accessible gift while supporting small businesses. libro.fm is an audiobook subscription service that gives you access to their enormous audiobook library for a monthly (or 3,6, 12 month) price. Any of the tiers are perfect for gifting. Prices start at $15 for one month, $45 for 3, $90 for 6, and $180 for a whole year of audiobooks. Shop at this link to support one of the few remaining feminist bookstores in the US, Charis Books and More in Atlanta.

The Great Courses Plus/Udemy/Masterclass/Skillshare Subscription — Learning in a formal classroom setting is often not accessible for us, let alone dealing with the nightmare of campus disability assistance. Especially in 2020, a gift of remote learning about a hobby or topic is wonderful. Subscriptions range from $45 — $100, depending on length of subscription and individual classes.

Donation to Disability Rights Organization — If someone you love isn’t a fan of receiving gifts, a donation to a cause close to their heart is just as meaningful. Ask your loved one what specific causes they are passionate about and vet some organizations who are doing amazing work. For my illness, Narcolepsy, donations can be given to Narcolepsy Network and Wake Up Narcolepsy.

Some other non-governmental organizations doing amazing work for people with disabilities:

Self Care and Symptom Reducers

Anxiety Aromatherapy Inhaler — These have saved me in many a panic attack. You simply just open the inhaler and smell the essential oils inside. Soothing and perfect for crowd, flight, medical, etc. related anxiety attacks.

Bath Soaks — These are a fantastic treat for someone with chronic pain and/or mental health issues. My anxious nerves thank me for the occasional Epsom salt bath. If you or the person you are buying for is sensitive to scents like I am, make sure that you purchase a soak that uses essential oils and non-toxic, non-synthetic ingredients. A couple of good options here and here.

Heat Pads — A spoonie’s best friend! These are perfect for chronic pain, anxiety, menstrual pain, headaches, you name it. You can get one of these cute designs or this one if you want a more minimalist pad.

Port Pillows — There are tons of illnesses that require or benefit from a port, which is a surgically implanted access so that people can get their meds non-invasively. Seatbelts and ports can be tricky to navigate. Luckily, lovely Etsy shop owners create cute little pillows to keep your port safe and you comfy.

Fancy Pill Case — I can recall many times before a trip running into Target to get the cheapest pill box. A one time purchase, good quality, pretty pill case is perfect for the chronically ill people in your life.

Spoonie Self Care Subscription Box — A few months of boxes with items from small businesses. A couple of good options are the Send Spoons Box or Caring Crate. Don’t be afraid to get creative and pack a self care box yourself! The more tailored to a specific person the better. This one is especially meaningful if you live long-distance from the person you are buying for.

Fidget Jewelry — This one is for those of us with anxiety and/or autism spectrum disorder, or otherwise fidgety folks. Stylish jewelry can be adapted to soothe symptoms. Accessories with moveable parts can be incredibly helpful.

High-End Pillow — If you are like me, you are no stranger to neck and back issues and fatigue. People with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Narcolepsy, and/or Fibromyalgia are pillow experts! I wouldn’t think to buy a pricier pillow for myself, but I would be ecstatic to receive one as a gift! An extra cushion for sleeping in the car is also a great gift idea. Other chronic illnesses also benefit from extra nap and nighttime comfort as well!

Etsy Gift Card — Etsy is my best friend. From non-toxic and minimal ingredients to supporting small businesses, Etsy is a one-stop shop for many of my purchases. If your loved one is hard to buy for, they will certainly find something amazing on Etsy. A gift card is always a safe bet!

Disability Pride

Show your spoonie pride! There is such a wealth of disability pride stuff available now, it makes me feel comforted and part of this amazing community of disabled folks and disability advocates.

Pins — I collect enamel pins, but sporting these on a jacket, hat, or backpack would be lovely. I personally love to show everyone I pass in public that not all disabilities are visible. So many pins out there, wonderful ones here, here, and here.

Stickers — Deck out your laptops, folders, trash cans, desks, etc. with cuteness. Adorable AF items here, here, here, and here.

Artwork/Prints — Adorn you or your loved one’s walls with intersectional disability pride! Here, here, here, here.

Holiday Cards — Whatever holiday you celebrate (or if you don’t celebrate, there are cards for randomness too!) here are some picks for you. This shop has many options for different celebrations.

Zines — Artists create zines still and I am obsessed. There are so many advocacy zines out there, and ones with disabled characters. Some of my faves here, here, here, and here.

Ornament- Adorn your tree with disability visibility!

Clothing

Adaptive Clothing — A huge help and time saver is accessible clothing. Here are some reputable sellers: Ivye Wear, IZ Adaptive, Alter UR Ego, and Tommy Hilfiger Adaptive

Advocacy T-Shirts — Black Disabled Lives Matter Shirt, Invisible Illness Squad Shirt, Teacher ASL Shirt, Clinically Tired Shirt

Books

There are a lot of books out right now about and by disabled folks! Here are some highlights. Get yourself or your loved one a bookmark and a book sleeve and you are all set!

The Perseverance by Raymond Antrobus

Beauty is a Verb: New Poetry of Disability edited by Jennifer Bartlett

Sitting Pretty: The View from My Ordinary Resilient Disabled Body by Rebekah Taussig

Disability Visibility: First Person Stories from the Twenty-First Century edited by Alice Wong

Technology

Advances in tech have perhaps been most advantageous to people with disabilities. Here are some items that would make our lives so much easier.

Robot Vacuum

Google Home

AssistiveWare Apps — This is an exciting new company that makes applications aimed specifically at accessibility. They make apps like Proloquo2Go and Proloquo4Text that are for non-speakers or people who sometimes cannot speak, using symbols to help communication.

Remote Control Outlet — Allows you to turn off electronics from a distance.

Extended Charging Cable — For the times when the cord stretched taut with a few inches to go until it reached the bed.

Whew! I hope there are some recommendations that you can utilize and give your friend or family member a lovely and thoughtful gift this season! Remember that many of us are high risk for COVID-19, so socially distanced gift giving is vital! Get creative! :)

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Sara Hagen

Writer specializing in advocating for marginalized people.