Top Gifts for Autistic Kids and Teens

top gifts for autistic kids and teens
top gifts for autistic kids and teens

Do you enjoy shopping for gifts for the holidays? Some relish the hunt for the “perfect gift”, while others stress over what to get their family and friends. And when you have a child or loved one on the autism spectrum, you may think finding a gift is even more challenging. However, it doesn’t have to be. We have created several gift guides over the years for those with autism (linked below), and this year we are continuing the tradition. We know parenting and caring for someone diagnosed with autism can add extra levels of stress, so we’re taking the challenge out of finding gifts for autistic kids and teens.

Let Their Interests Guide You

Here are a few things to keep in mind: Every autistic child or teen is unique, so remember to consider their individual interests. If they have an obsession with dinosaurs, trains, music, Legos or a certain super hero, then go with what they love! You can also consider supporting their development with gifts that will help them with communication, fine motor, socialization and sensory needs. And if the gift combines both their unique interest and a developmental need, then you’ve struck gold! Additionally, you don’t always have to go with the age recommendation for the toy or game. What is more important to consider is the child’s interest and where they are developmentally right now.

Creative Play and Fine Motor Development

These gift ideas are great for creative play, while also using their hands for fine motor skill development.

  • Playfoam is a foam material that can be shaped into anything, will not dry out, is non-stick and not messy! Kids can squeeze and mold it into all kids of shapes.
  • Kinetic Sand is a popular item because of it’s non-messy nature as well as all the fun ways you can build and create with it.
  • Legos are a popular toy for autistic kids. Lego groups for autistic teens and kids are used in therapy to develop communication and social skills. The limitless ways you can build and create with them, along with the way they develop fine motor dexterity and strength make these an awesome gift for all kids!
  • There are several popular magnet building toys. However, Magz-Bricks are different than the usual flat, triangle, square and rectangle magnets, providing a new way to create and use your hands!

Sensory Gift Ideas

Many kids and teens on the autism spectrum have sensory needs. The following gift ideas are wonderful resources to support their sensory needs: This Thomas and Friends Pop-Up Train Tent is a great way to provide a quiet respite for kids who may become overstimulated. And if they love trains, even better!

An Inflatable Pea Pod will help a child who benefits from pressure (being squeezed and hugged). This one is designed for children ages 6-12 and this one if for little ones ages 2-6. These pressure tools can help them calm down before bed, or if they become overly stimulated. And a pressure vest may be a great option for teenagers.

For kids who move a lot, keeping their fingers busy with fidgets is a great way to help them focus. This unique weighted glove is great for sensory input, and it also provides proprioceptive input (stimulates muscles and joints) during handwriting. Not to mention it looks cool! You could also go with a sensory bundle pack to provide a variety ways to keep their hands busy and help them focus. And if your child has trouble sitting still, an inflatable seating disc may help them with attention and focus.


Many autistic children and teens have communication delays. Our amazing team of speech pathologists put together a list of toys and books and the communication goals to target when playing with them. For example, Mr. and Mrs. Potato head provide a wide array of speech and language development from receptive and listening skills to practicing two word phrases, using pronouns and more.

National Autism Resources

For a plethora of more gift ideas for autistic teens and kids, check out the National Autism Resources website for games to develop social skills, tools to build independence, and many more incredible ideas.

Remember the Parents

Let’s face it, parents of autistic kids and teens are often under additional stress and juggle more than parents of neurotypical children. So if you’re a grandparent, aunt, uncle or friend of a child or teen on the autism spectrum, consider a gift for their parents! Something that encourages self-care, like a massage or a mani/pedi. Or even a gift card for carry out dinner takes some stress off their plate. You could also give the gift of your time for the opportunity to get out of the house without kids!

Hopefully these ideas are helpful in finding a gift for your child, grandchild, niece or nephew. And if you’re local to us here in Metro Detroit and want to support a local business, there’s a great option for your shopping.   Toyolgy Toys has locations in Royal Oak, West Bloomfield and Bloomfield Hills, and they have website ordering available, as well as curbside pick up.

And for more gift ideas, here are the links to check our other gift guides: 

Great Gift Ideas for Kids with Autism

2019 Gift Guide for Kids with Autism

Gift Ideas for Kids with Autism

And if you have a gift idea for an autistic child or teen, please share it in the comments below!

Great Gift Ideas for Autistic Children

With holiday season fast approaching, it’s time to scheme gift ideas! But finding useful and entertaining gifts for kids with autism can be tricky. For the past few years, we’ve compiled lists of gift ideas for autistic children. These categorized suggestions come from experts at our clinics as well as popular preferences from our clients.

A few things to note: Remember to consider the child’s interests and developmental stage. If they love a certain character or sport for example, find something that includes that. Or if they are intrigued by a certain sensory experience, such as fluffy or smooth items, gift from those categories. Their developmental stage also might not match age-appropriate toys and activities, so keep in mind what they might enjoy based on their abilities and interests.

Here is your guide with great gift ideas for an autistic child (or teen)!

Gifts that encourage movement

Many kids with autism often need to incorporate lots of movement into their day to counteract sensory issues. Try an anti-burst peanut exercise ball for core strength development and calming deep pressure, or a balance board for balance and coordination.

Additionally, according to one of our Occupational Therapists, jumping is an excellent way for kids to get sensory input. She suggests a monkey jump, where small children can engage in a game of Five Little Monkeys. A mini trampoline is another fantastic go-to option for kids who need to get energy out.

Sensory gift ideas

Water beads are a huge favorite of our clients. After expanding in water, put them in a bin and let kids run their hands through them for some mesmerizing sensory fun.

Sometimes a child with autism finds solace with alone time. Make a peaceful haven in a tent that you can fill with pillows, stuffed animals, or any other objects that help your child experience calm.

Poke-A-Dot books offer interactive sensory input while enjoying a story. Children can pop the dots on each page, which is a great opportunity for fine motor skills.

If your child often gets overstimulated and likes body pressure, try a weighted vest, blanket, or neck wrap. The added weight can aid in focus and help kids feel safe and secure.

Toys that support fine motor skills

Kinetic sand is a perfect gift for kids that like to squish, mold, and create—another favorite of our clients. As opposed to real sand, kinetic sand prevents big messes as it sticks together. Scoop into molds or build little creatures and sandcastles for fine motor practice.

Do you have a child who loves taking things apart and putting back together? Check out this take-apart car, complete with a drill. Our OTs utilize these cars during sessions to encourage fine motor skills. The car can also go for a drive when construction is completed, offering an enticing reward at the end of a task.

Do.A.Dot markers help kids work on fine motor skills through learning to hold and control something in their hand. With a sponge tip applicator, they are also mess-free! These markers are a great option for quick art projects.

Gifts for tweens and teens

Many of these gifts work for younger children, but may not satisfy needs of older kids and teens with autism. Finding gifts for teens can be difficult, but we suggest fidget-friendly items than can ease stress. As kids get older, they need to concentrate longer on tasks. Gifting a fidget spinner, a Kinekt gear ring, or finger fidget pencils can therapeutically relieve extra energy and stress when trying to focus.

Stocking stuffers

Try these smaller items to stick in a stocking. “Pop-its” are all the rage right now, for both neurotypical and autistic children—we see many around our clinics! Therapy putty often comes in a small container for easy transport to pull out and squish when needed. Our clients also enjoy stretchy tubes that pop and bend. For kiddos who like to mouth items, try packs of fun-shaped chewies such as these shark teeth. An anti-stress toy like this cool fidget or a liquid timer can simultaneously entertain and ease sensory induced anxiety.

Gift ideas to treat parents

If you’re planning to give to a child with autism, it’s a nice gesture to gift their parents as well. Parents of kids with special needs often endure a lot of stress. Self-care and fun experiences are excellent options, such as a manicure/pedicure, a massage, restaurant gift cards, or movie gift certificates. A relaxing night out is often a wonderful gift for parents, given all they balance!

We hope we’ve helped take some of the stress out of your holiday shopping this year with these great gift ideas for autistic children. For even more gift suggestions, be sure to check out all our holiday gift guides.

2019 Gift Guide for Kids with Autism


As we enter the holiday season, we want to take some of the stress out of gift-giving, especially when it comes to kids and teens with autism. Last year we wrote a post with a variety of gift ideas from our team of BCBA’s and Occupational Therapists. So, this year we are expanding on that list and going back to our expert staff for more of their top picks. We also had a parent submit her own child-tested gift ideas! Read on for some great ideas if your holiday shopping list includes a child/teen with autism or other developmental disability.

Sensory Input

Textured sensory balls provide a variety of benefits for sensory seeking kiddos. Recommended by one of our BCBAs, textured sensory balls are great for fidgeting, tactile input, stress and anxiety relief and more!

A big favorite with the kids in our clinics – water beads! These are great fun for sensory input, fine motor, sorting, colors and more! 

This Pin Art Game is awesome for sensory seekers. It encourages creativity, while providing tactile input. And the bonus is there is no mess to clean up!

Giant Exercise Balls are great for kids who have trouble sitting still. Using these balls not only can help kids focus, but also works their core at the same time. They are available many places, but this one from National Autism Resources is guaranteed not to burst and is a popular one with OTs and therapists.

Get Moving

Called “River Stones”, these varying sizes of plastic stepping stones help children work on balance and coordination. They are a great get moving gift for indoor fun during our cold winter months here in Michigan!

Fine Motor

Our team highly recommends Magna Tiles. They are popular among many of our clients and work on fine motor, spatial and problem solving skills.

Social Skill Development

For older kids and teens who could use help in developing social skills, another one of our BCBAs recommends some social games available from National Autism Resources.  And for preschool and elementary age, Hoot Owl Hoot is an award-winning cooperative game. It’s fun while teaching colors, turn-taking, strategy, shared decision making and more!

Encouraging Academics

If you’re looking to help your child with academic skills, our team recommends the “I Can Read” books to support readers at their individual level. With a variety of subjects/character themes at various reading levels, there are plenty of options to find something your child will enjoy, while encouraging them to practice their reading skills.

Stocking Stuffers

Another one of our therapists recommends any kind of slime for great sensory input. And if your child loves playing with bubble wrap and fidgets, this Dimpl is a fun cause-and-effect, sensory toy for all ages.

The holidays are also a great time to restock the sensory bin with fidgets. If your child likes a variety of different items for sensory play, this Fidget Set gives you lots of options – and will definitely fill out their stocking!

Don’t Forget the Parents!

If you’re a grandparent, aunt, uncle or friend of family impacted by autism, let’s not forget the parents! They juggle so much with their child’s diagnosis and are often under additional stress. Consider a gift that encourages self-care, like a mani/pedi or a massage. Many parents of autistic children and teens could use the gift of your time for a night out without the kids.

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! For our local Metro Detroit families who want to “buy local”, a great option for many of these toys and games listed above, is Toyolgy Toys. They have several locations as well as website ordering available!

If you have a gift idea for someone with autism, please share it in the comments below!

If you found this information helpful, we’d love it if you’d share it with your network!

Gift Ideas for Kids with Autism

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 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.

Calming/Sensory Gifts

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 is easily machine washable 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.

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.

Fine Motor

A great way to help your child work independently at home, while also working on fine motor and visual integration are jigsaw puzzles. One of our BCBAs 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.

Stocking Stuffers

  • 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!