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20 Back-to-School Supplies for Students with Special Needs

As the end of summer nears, many families are scrambling to navigate various back-to-school needs. For parents and/or caregivers of students with special needs, this to-do list can be a bit lengthier. For example, some students with disabilities may benefit from adaptive school supplies, an IEP and so on.

AmeriDisability rounded up 20 useful back-to-school supplies to help students with special needs transition back to the classroom.

1. Adaptive Eyewear

Worried your student isn’t clearly seeing the chalkboard because of ill-fitting glasses? Founded by a mom who struggled to find well-fitting glasses for her daughter Erin, the SPECS4US company specializes in frames designed for eyeglass-wearers with Down syndrome. This innovative line features a bridge that is adjusted to properly fit a low nasal bridge and temples (or “arms” of the glasses) which are modified to keep the glasses from slipping down.

pink adaptive glasses

2. Adaptive School Uniforms

French Toast, a schoolwear brand, just launched its brand new adaptive collection. It features 12 disability-friendly and/or sensory-friendly, dress-code-ready tops and bottoms, including polos, woven shirts, shorts, pants, skorts, dresses and activewear. French Toast Adaptive is available online at,, and, to name a few.

girl in wheelchair wearing adaptive schoolwear

3. Chair Fidget for Feet

This useful tool easily loops around the legs of a standard classroom chair. Its noiseless design lets students with special needs fidget discreetly without distracting fellow classmates. Plus, it’s portable so students can transfer this item to secondary classes or other settings.

chair fidget

4. Chew Necklace

Stylish chewables for kiddos with autism, ADHD, sensory processing disorder or other oral motor conditions are now available in tons of fun, school-aged designs. That means these sensory pieces double as accessories! For example, one multi-pack sold on Amazon features a shark tooth, Captain America-inspired dog tag and Lego blocks.

chew necklaces

5. Chewy Pencil Sleeve

Designed for light to moderate chewers, this chewy is made of FDA-approved silicone and is free of BPA. It allows students to safely and calmly chew for oral motor stimulation, without damaging their writing utensils.

student using pencil sleeve

6. Clear Face Masks

For students continuing to wear face masks, these clear front coverings offer protection while allowing for displays of facial expressions and lip-reading, which is especially important for those within the Deaf and hard of hearing community. Masks feature adorable, kid-friendly designs with adjustable ear straps.

child sized face mask

7. Compression Under-Hugger

This stretchy, tagless and breathable undershirt can provide desirable pressure for students seeking calming sensory input. Plus, the under-hugger can be worn unnoticeably beneath top-layer fashion garments so students can still show off their personal style.

girl wearing under-hugger garment

8. Different—A Great Thing to Be

Written by Heather Avis and illustrated by Sarah Mensinga, this book encourages children to live inclusively by valuing the “different” in all people in an effort to promote kindness. Everyone is different – with and without disabilities. FYI, perhaps this book could be counted for a school reading log.

Different Book

9. Fidget Backpack

This backpack, with adjustable straps, is fun and functional. Students won’t misplace fidgets because their attached to this backpack. Kids can play and strengthen fine motor skills with snaps, bouncy coils, buckles, shoestrings and more.

Fidget backpack

10. Food Allergy Bracelet

According to Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE), an estimated 32 million Americans have food allergies, including 5.6 million children under age 18. That’s 1-in-13 children or roughly two in every classroom. These silicone alert bracelets serve as a visual reminder to warn daycare and school staff not to give allergens to students. This pack also comes with EpiPen tags that can be attached to a medical bag or backpack.

Food allergy bracelet

11. IEP Parent Planner

Whether it’s your first or fifth meeting with your child’s individualized education program (IEP) planning team, a lot of information can be discussed during such gatherings. Parents may consider organizing information in a condensed IEP binder.

IEP parent planner

12. Mini Loop Scissors

Easy-squeeze scissors are effective for students who need added manual support when cutting paper or constructing art projects. This six-pack of adaptive scissors comes in assorted colors, including blue, green, orange, red, purple and yellow.


13. Mood Bands

These wrist bands may aid students with a delay of speech, apraxia of speech and other communications-related or invisible disabilities. The two-sided bracelet can be worn on the green side to share “Happy to talk” or on the red side to emphasize “Please leave me alone.”

mood bracelets

14. Pencil Grips

This eight-pack of ergonomic pencil grips features four different types of grippers in varying colors. They are designed to help students with special needs confidently hold a writing utensil and improve handwriting.

pencil grips

15. Spiky Tactile Cushion

This double-sided sensory cushion offers spiky sensation on one side and a bumpy texture on the other. It is intended to engage balance, body awareness and core strength, while also improving posture.

spiky sensory cushion

16. Temperature Zone Lunch Box

Because some students with special needs are particular about food texture, flavor, temperature and plate arrangement, the leak-proof OmieBox Bento Box is a useful lunch tool. It has two temperature control zones to allow for warm and cold items, plus snacks.

Temperature Control Lunchbox

17. Time Timer

Adhering to a schedule can be tricky, especially when parents are trying to coerce their students into sitting down for homework! A visual tool, like the Time Timer, can help set time limits for specific activities such as chores, reading and screen time.

girl using a timer

18. Thoughtful Cards

Offering words of encouragement and heartfelt affirmations can truly serve all students – with and without disabilities. This box comes with 30 positive cards that can be tucked in a lunch box, pocket or backpack. Consider this a simple, yet powerful tool to remind your student that he/she/they matter and are capable of greatness.

thoughtful cards

19. Wake Up Light Alarm Clock

Over half of children with autism – and possibly as many as four in five – have one or more chronic sleep problems, according to Autism Speaks. Establishing good sleep hygiene can be challenging for some but this clock can help. It’s intended for kiddos who are sensitive to sounds or who respond more to visual cues than sound cues. Set the sound/volume and light to your child’s level of comfort.

light alarm clock

20. Weighted Lap Pad or Blanket

A weighted pad can be laid across a student’s lap, shoulders, back or stomach; or, if applicable, utilized as a weighted blanket during nap time. Another option for calming and sensory input, students may also enjoy a weighted vest.

weighted lap blanket

AmeriDisability wishes all families, and especially those within the disability community, a successful start to the new school year!

Note: This article includes affiliated links.

Looking for more adaptive products? Check out these finds: 

Nancy DeVault
Nancy is the managing editor of AmeriDisability. She is an award-winning storyteller passionate about health and happiness.

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