The holiday season also means gift-giving season for many. And for families who have someone with autism, finding a great gift may seem daunting. So we’ve asked our expert staff for their top picks of gift ideas for kids and teens with autism. We’ve compiled quite a varied list, so hopefully there’s at least one item that will fit your loved one!
Get Moving Gifts
A mini-trampoline with a handlebar is on our Occupational Therapist’s list because it provides a great way to improve your child’s motor skills, coordination and sensory processing. The repetitive bouncing motion helps children learn over time how to read impulses from their different sensory systems. It can be used inside during the cold winter months and outside during the summer.
One of our BCBA’s picks for a great holiday gift is a body sock. Often used by Occupational Therapists, they can also be a wonderful toy and tool at home. A body sock provides resistance and calming deep pressure input to the proprioceptive and tactile systems. They are used for sensory regulation, calming kids who may be overwhelmed or overstimulated. It’s also great for helping kids with spatial awareness – where their body is in space. Check out this blog post from The Inspired Tree House for some ideas on how you can use a body sock with your child.
A sit ‘n spin board is another pick from one of our OT’s. It’s a great way to provide balance therapy by developing upper body coordination, as well as sensory integration through the spinning movement.
A lightweight tunnel for kids to crawl through helps develop arm and leg muscles and gross motor skills. It also collapses down for easy storage at home.
Weighted blankets have become quite popular in recent years. One of our OT’s recommends them because of the deep touch pressure they provide. Weighted blankets can help kids with anxiety, autism, sensory processing disorder, stress and poor sleep. Choose a blanket weight corresponding with your child’s weight – 8-12% of total body weight. So a 5lb. blanket is recommended for a 42-63lb child. And this example includes a soft textured cover that can be washed, while providing soft tactile input.
One of our former ABA Therapists turned counselor recommends this 3D printed moon design light for the calming light it provides for your child’s bedroom.
These lava lamps come recommended by one of our BCBAs. They are great for teens with autism for sensory regulation, helping them regain a sense of calm.
Clothes are always a useful and practical gift. When shopping for kids and teens with autism, another one of our BCBA’s recommends choosing cotton clothes that have no tags. And some companies, like Target and Tommy Hilfiger, are coming out with adaptive clothing lines designed for those with sensory and fine motor needs.
A great way to help your child work independently at home, while also working on fine motor and visual integration are jigsaw puzzles. BCBA Julie recommends choosing puzzles with a favorite character to keep their interest – like this Marvel Comics puzzle, or this Disney set. And puzzles are also a great way to encourage social interaction when they work with a peer.
Kinetic sand (or moon sand) sticks to itself, but not to your hands or other things. Recommended by one of our Occupational Therapists, this is a great tactile activity – kids can squeeze it, shape it and create things without making a huge mess. And unlike Playdough, this Kinetic sand is gluten free, which is helpful for the many individuals with autism who adhere to specific diets.
- The ultimate fidget spinner – this Atesson spinner has stainless steel bearings and can spin for 4-10 minutes!
- Therapy putty is a go-to choice for occupational and behavior therapists for the fine motor building and tactile input it provides.
- Many kids with autism seek oral motor input. These chew brick necklaces are both popular and functional.
We hope these ideas help you find not only a gift that is helpful for your child, grandchild, niece or nephew, but also something they will have fun with! And if you have a gift idea for someone with autism, please share it in the comments below!
Other (Octavian-tested) great ideas are:
River Stones for balance – https://www.amazon.com/Stones-Obstacle-Balance-Course-Different/dp/B07GXF62QT/ref=sr_1_7?s=toys-and-games&ie=UTF8&qid=1543247981&sr=1-7&keywords=river+rocks
Water Beads for sensory – https://www.amazon.com/UWANTME-Rainbow-Growing-Tactile-Decoration/dp/B071W18C3X/ref=sr_1_1_sspa?s=toys-and-games&ie=UTF8&qid=1543248025&sr=1-1-spons&keywords=water+beads&psc=1
Bubble Machine for fun – https://www.amazon.com/Gazillion-Bubbles-Hurricane-Machine-Colors/dp/B000197NXM/ref=sr_1_10?s=toys-and-games&ie=UTF8&qid=1543248060&sr=1-10&keywords=bubble+machine
Indoor Therapy Swing for hours of fun (invest in the recommended mounting bracket up front) – https://www.amazon.com/Quility-Therapy-Children-Aspergers-Integration/dp/B07D2ZM1VR/ref=sr_1_2_sspa?s=toys-and-games&ie=UTF8&qid=1543248155&sr=1-2-spons&keywords=swing%2Btherapy&th=1
Night Sky LED projector for bedtime magic – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01KPPMM1E?aaxitk=OPjJ2yg5v43MxmOpmlgVvw&pd_rd_i=B01KPPMM1E&pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_p=3ff6092e-8451-438b-8278-7e94064b4d42&pf_rd_s=desktop-sx-top-slot&pf_rd_t=301&pf_rd_i=light%2Bprojector%2Bstars&hsa_cr_id=5414509670401&sb-ci-n=asinImage&sb-ci-v=https%3A%2F%2Fimages-na.ssl-images-amazon.com%2Fimages%2FI%2F61gpVmY%2B6XL.jpg&sb-ci-a=B01KPPMM1E&th=1
Rainstick – https://www.amazon.com/Arte-Indigena-Cactus-Rainstick-Inches/dp/B0042SR4IW/ref=sr_1_3_sspa?s=toys-and-games&ie=UTF8&qid=1543248530&sr=1-3-spons&keywords=rain+stick&psc=1
Pin Art Game for Sensory Seekers – https://www.amazon.com/ArtCreativity-Classic-Autistic-Kids-Boards/dp/B01KTZ890S/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1543248620&sr=8-5&keywords=gifts+for+children+with+autism
Giant Exercise Balls – https://www.amazon.com/d/Exercise-Balls/Gaiam-Total-Body-Balance-Ball/B000VDTEDA/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1543248693&sr=8-5&keywords=Exercise+ball+large
Squishy Mesh Balls (Hours of fun) – https://www.amazon.com/HighlifeS-Squishy-Squeezing-Colorful-Birthday/dp/B07DR99T7B/ref=sr_1_52_a_it?ie=UTF8&qid=1543248791&sr=8-52&keywords=gifts+for+children+with+autism
Hope this helps!! All these have been loved by our kiddo!
Thanks so much Cat for the additional ideas – tested and approved by your guy! 🙂
You forgot “Just Dance 2019”