Buying a toy, gift, or Christmas present for a child or teen on the autism spectrum can be challenging. During the holidays we receive many calls asking our product specialists for gift advice. Based on these questions our product specialists have put together this guide to help you choose the best gifts for children, teens, and adults on the autism spectrum.
Keep in mind an autistic person's developmental ability rather than age.
When choosing a gift or toy for an autistic person think about their developmental ability rather than their age. For example, if the child has delays in language or social skills look for toys that are at their ability level that can encourage this development. This will minimize frustration and encourage playful exploration and development. We have toys and gifts based on the following developmental ages:
Another good gift to consider for children and teens on the spectrum is something that is calming. Miscommunication and misunderstandings are common for people on the spectrum due to social and communication struggles. Stress, anxiety, and meltdowns can be common. A soothing gift is not only enjoyable but can also make life easier for the whole family.
- Gentle vibration is very calming and many autistic children and teens enjoy vibrating items such as a bear, or vibrating mitt.
- Slow, repetitive motion items are also calming the tranquil turtle, jellyfish lamp, or ooze tubes are all popular options.
- Weighted items also are very calming. These items can be more expensive but can also be an extremely helpful gift that can be used for several years. A weighted blanket, lap pads or weighted vests are all very popular weighted gifts for children and teens on the autism spectrum.
Sensory items are usually well received.
Many autistic children, teenagers, and adults enjoy sensory toys and products. They can be pleasant distractions when traveling to visit family members.
- Is the person visually oriented? If so great gifts to think about are interesting visual toys such as the find it game, soothing rain tube, or light up rail twirler. Our most popular visual toy is the Strobotop.
- Does the person seek to touch lots of things? If so think about toys and gifts that are tactile. Good tactile sensory toys feature interesting textures that are interesting touch. Two of our most popular tactile items include the super spaghetti ball and the tactile tangle relax.
- Remember sometimes less can be more with sensory items. Be careful not to pick a toy that can be overwhelming. It may be better to get something that provides one type of sensory stimulation, tactile, sound, or light. A toy with too much stimulation can cause over-stimulation or stress.
Gifts that Help Language Development
Language and communication challenges are common for those with autism. A wide variety of flashcards
can teach basic and advanced language skills. A child with language delays who is beginning to notice their peers will do better with simple turn taking board games. Some simple turn taking games that can also help with language development include the Sentence Building Game
, Who is Being Friendly
, or the 6 Language Development Board Game Set
Gifts that Help Social Skills
A hallmark symptom of autism is delayed or impaired social skills. The good news is that people of all ages can learn essential social skills with practice. Here are a few gift ideas to help with this area.
Gifts That Can Help Build Specific Skills
We offer many more items that support specific developmental needs. Some popular categories include:
It can be a challenge choosing toys for autistic children. We hope these tips have been helpful for you.