I have mixed feelings on the types of items I put on her "list". On the one hand, I want her to be a kid and just enjoy some toys without them having to have a specific purpose or therapeutic value. On the other hand, if she's going to get more than she knows what to do with, it might as well be things that will benefit her in some way. And so I start researching.
The really nice part is that both of our families are very good at providing that perfect combination. She gets some silly things that all kids get, and she gets a lot of things that our families know will help in areas she's working on. Many of the "therapeutic" toys are ones that lots of kids have, they just serve a specific purpose for Tera and other kids with developmental and physical delays.
If you know of a child that falls into these categories, some of the things we've found to be helpful are:
-Dolls/babies for pretend play
-Puzzles (we started with ones that have the big pegs on them, then the smaller pegs, and now she's working on ones where she has to match the shape of the piece to the correct place on the puzzle, but without a corresponding picture on the puzzle)
-Always books, but specifically ones with textures, singles words on a page with a picture
-Musical instruments (she currently has an accordion, two guitars, a keyboard, drums, and this awesome toy where you put various instruments on a platform and it plays a song using whatever instruments on the platform)
-Kitchen sets for pretend play
-Anything that forces them to reach, especially when they are younger
-Blocks and cups or anything that can be stacked
-The folding tunnels for crawling
-Toys that link together or Velcro food for muscle development and fine motor skills
-Things that play music
-Coloring books and crayons
I could go on, but those are the big ones. I think it's important for any child to have some purposeful play in their routine. And don't get me wrong , there is definitely a need to just let them be creative and silly as well.
We've recently decided to get Tera a Barbie-like doll (we're a little too weird for just a Barbie though so she got a Monster High doll and a Barbie outfit) to help her practice her fine motor skills in dressing and undressing the doll. I will probably add some new, more challenging puzzles to her list, there are always new books that she would enjoy, and we'll probably indulge her love of animals in some way.
It's not necessarily less fun to shop for Tera this way, really it makes us feel better that at least most of the crap that fills up our house is useful.