- Toy & Gift Guide For Autistic Kids and Teens
Toy & Gift Guide For Autistic Kids and Teens
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 helpful guide to help you choose the best gifts for kids, teens, and adults on the autism spectrum.
We have toys and gifts based on the following developmental ages:
In this guide we will cover the following kinds of toys:
- Sensory Toys & Gifts
- Cause and Effect
- Social Skills Games
- Fidget Toys & Stress Balls
- Movement and Active Play
- Fun Gifts Under $10
Keep in mind an autistic person's developmental ability rather than their 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.
Consider Buying a Calming Gift
Calming items make good gifts. 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. Calming Gifts Examples:
- Many autistic children and teens enjoy gentle vibrating items such as a vibrating pillow, vibrating mitt, or soothing vibrating roll.
- Slow, repetitive motion items like the tranquil starfish, jellyfish aquarium, or soothing sand panel are also calming. We have smaller items like the ooze tube or liquid timer that are popular as well.
- Weighted items also make great gifts. These items can be more expensive but can also be an extremely helpful gift that can last for several years. Check out our weighted blankets, lap pads, and weighted vests.
Sensory Gifts Everyone Will Love
Many autistic children, teenagers, and adults enjoy sensory toys and products. They can be pleasant distractions when traveling to visit family members or simply for use at home. Examples of Sensory Gifts:
- Is the person visually oriented? If so, great gifts to think about are interesting visual toys such as the Lightshow DJ, Plasma 360, Cyclone Pinwheel, 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 textures that are interesting to touch. Some popular tactile gifts include the fidget set, Living Sands ABC set, Pin Art, and the Tangle Therapy.
- 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 and stress.
Gifts that Help Social Skills
A hallmark of autism is delayed or impaired social skills. The good news is that people of all ages can learn essential social skills with practice. Gift ideas to help with social skills:
- Social skills are complex there are many games that cover a wide variety of scenarios to help kids and teens master them. Some of our favorites include the Hidden Rules Game, What Should I Do Now?, or the Blunders Game.
- Learning to recognize emotions and empathize with others is also a vital social skill. Games that can help with this include the Empathy Game, How do You Feel,, or the interactive Let's Make Faces book.
- Learning to hold and sustain a conversation is a vital skill. For those who need some support check out the Buddy Talk or Teen Talk. These fun card sets have lots of questions kids can ask their peers to help with conversations.
- Some fun books to consider that cover social skills include: Diary of a Social Detective, Dude That's Rude, Making and Being Friends, and for young children Play Power.
- 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, photo bingo, or the 6 Language Development Board Game Set.
- Simple cause and effect toys allow an autistic child to take turns playing with a peer or family member. Cause and effect toys are nice for emerging social interaction because the child is immediately rewarded for a simple interaction.
It can be a challenge choosing toys for autistic children. If you need help choosing a gift call us at 877-249-2393 we would love to help you. We hope these tips have been helpful for you.