Gifts For An Autistic Child – The Ultimate Guide
Finding the right gift for a child is not always a simple task. Children with autism have various sensitivities and needs. It is important to consider these when choosing an appropriate gift.
We have prepared this ultimate guide of mom-approved gifts for kids with autism. But before going further, let’s first review what makes children with autism unique. ASD is a complex neurobehavioral condition. This includes differences in social interaction and developmental/communication skills as well as rigid, repetitive behaviors. ASD is a multifaceted disorder which presents differently in each child diagnosed.
Sensory needs of children with autism
Many children with autism experience difficulties in processing sensory information. Because of this, they often crave things related to their sensory needs. The different kinds of sensory-seeking behaviors of children with autism are:
- Oral – A child with oral sensory needs wants anything that provides a mouth feel. Engaging in activities such as chewing, licking, and biting can meet this need. To help redirect this behavior, you can buy chewable jewelry and knotted fabrics.Olfactory – Children with this sensory need like to sniff and seek out new and attractive smells. A simple way to fulfill this need is to fill empty bottles with pom-poms soaked in essential oils. Puncture several holes in the cap so the smell can reach the child. Lavender and vanilla are great options for calming scents.
- Tactile or the sense of touch – Children with tactile sensory needs like to touch or stroke various textures. To help fulfill this need, you can prepare a bag of items the child finds pleasing. Some items to consider are a first-aid crinkly blanket, stones, or silk. Encourage the child to touch these different textures to calm him/her.Visual or the sense of light – Children who are visual seekers love to look at different colors and lights. To calm children with visual sensibilities, try bath paints, bubbles, and water spouts. You can also try tinted glasses, sand timers, and light-up toys.
- Vestibular – Children who are vestibular seekers enjoy spinning and rocking. To help calm a child with this sensory need, you can give him/her sit-on spinning toys. Swinging the child in a hammock-shaped sheet is also an effective calming strategy.
- Proprioception– Children with proprioceptive seeking-tendencies love to feel the impact. Crash mats and a trampoline are great options to provide safe proprioceptive feedback.
General tips for buying gifts for kids with autism
Here are some general tips to keep in mind when buying toys for autistic children:
- Determine what the child loves, then consider his/her age, cognitive level, and motor skills.
- Ask the parents what sensory inputs their child enjoys or avoids. Ask if he/she has a special hobby or interest. Common interests include building or engineering activities, drawing, animals, and trains.
- Choose gifts that will provide the child with real-life experiences.
- Buy gifts the child can use at school and will aid him/her in coping with his/her sensory needs.
- You might also consider buying a calming gift to help children cope with high-stress holiday periods.
- Gifts that help social skills are a wonderful option to enhance a child’s therapies.
Recommended gifts for an autistic child
Here are some recommended sensory toys for children with ASD. We have grouped these gift ideas based on specific sensory needs. Many of these toys are available online.
For children with oral sensory needs:
1. Knobby Super Chew by Chewy Tubes – This super chew product from Chewy Tubes is designed to provide positive oral stimulation. The product comes with a closed loop handle that children can grasp easily. The bitable stem has a knobby textured surface. This toy is available for $5.81 at Amazon.com
2. Multi-Textured Chew Stixx Oral Motor Chew by Chew Stixx – This toy is a safe, bacteria-free option. The oral motor chew comes with knobby, smooth, and textured surfaces to soothe a variety of cravings. The use of this product should always be under the supervision of an adult or a therapist. The product costs $7.49 at Amazon.com.
3. Nuk Toothbrush from Nuk – This gift idea is a wonderful tool for oral motor stimulation and desensitization. This toothbrush is an excellent gift for children with autism because of its calming benefits. The toothbrush can be purchased at Amazon.com for $9.47.
4. Chew Brick Sensory Chewing Necklace from Solace –This sensory necklace is said to be the perfect chew toy for children with ASD, particularly those with oral sensory needs. This toy improves focus and calms the child. The product is manufactured from 100 percent pure silicone and is free from lead, polyvinyl chloride (PVC), phthalates, and other potentially toxic chemicals, so it is guaranteed to be non-toxic and safe for children. Solace offers a 100-percent satisfaction money-back guarantee for this product. This necklace can be purchased at a discounted price of $12.99 at Amazon.com.
5. Chewable Jewelry Large Coil Bracelet from Chewzy Sensations –This autism bracelet is highly durable and very comfortable to wear due to its large coils. This product from Chewzy Sensations fits nicely to a child’s wrist, allowing the child to play or chew on it without any bulkiness. This bracelet also comes in four fun colors, so the child can choose a favorite color. The product is made of durable material that is specially designed for chewing and fidgeting so it can hold its shape significantly longer than others. A pack of these chewable bracelets is available at Amazon.com for a discounted price of $24.47.
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For children with olfactory sensory needs:
1. Montessori Scent Boxes/Smelling Bottles from Pink Montessori –This product features two wooden trays with six wooden cylinder boxes in each tray. These sensory items are intended to improve the olfactory senses and calm children with olfactory sensory needs. The cylinder boxes have removable lids that facilitate the placement of different scents. This product is available at Amazon.com for $34.00.
2. Scented Putty: Lavender Fragrance for Calming Therapy and Play – This recommended special needs gift is ideal for children with olfactory sensory needs, as well as those who struggle with sleep and anxiety. The product’s lavender scent is effective in relieving tension and helping kids relax. Buy this product at Amazon.com for $12.99.
For kids with vestibular sensory needs:
1. Plastic Scooter Board with Handles from Fun and Function LLC – This recommended gift for kids helps improve the balance and motor skills of children with ASD, particularly those with vestibular sensory needs, in a fun, movement-based environment. It is also effective in developing the strength of the upper and lower extremities of a child. This ride-on toy can be used by a child while sitting, kneeling, or in a prone position. This product is made of durable, high-quality materials to ensure its longevity of use and the safety of its users. The toy costs $17.99 at Amazon.com.
2. High Speed Fidget Spinner Toy from Momentum S –This fun toy from Momentum S is designed to eliminate anxiety and boredom. The toy’s ergonomic curved-shape design is intended to ensure hand comfort and long-term usage. The product also comes in several colors such as gold, purple, and blue, and is certified by the US Consumer Safety Commission as a safe toy for children. Fidget spinners are also amazing gift ideas for teens and adults with autism. This product is priced at $17.00 at Amazon.com.
3. Air-Lite Barrel Roll from Fun and Function – Made from flocked covered vinyl, this fun toy for children offers limitless activities and excitement for kids with vestibular sensory needs. The product, which is one of the recommended best toys for kids, also helps in improving a child’s balanced reactions, motor planning, and sensory integration. The toy’s soft and smooth texture makes users feel as if they are floating on clouds. The barrel roll can be purchased at Amazon.com for $169.99.
4. Indoor Swing Combo Kit from Playaway Toy Co. – This indoor toy from Playaway Toy Co. can instantly transform your doorway into a playground. It can also be taken down in seconds and moved to the desired location quickly. The indoor swing is recommended for rainy days when children cannot play outside. The kit includes a support bar, strap swing, and trapeze bar. This product costs $179.99 at Amazon.com.
5. Therapy Sensory Swing for Outdoor and Indoor Use from DreamGYM –This product is recommended for children with autism and sensory processing disorder (SPD). It provides stimulation to a child’s vestibular system and gives him/her deep touch pressure. This product can be purchased at a discounted price of $79.97 at Amazon.com
For kids with proprioceptive sensory needs:
1. Spikey Soft Glove Visual Sensory Fidget Toy by Magical Land Store – Manufactured from super soft, stretchy, and non-toxic material that is fun to manipulate and touch, this proprioceptive sensory toy can provide great tactile fun to children with ASD. You can let the child use this spiky glove while he/she is writing for better proprioceptive input. The product costs $15.99 at Amazon.com
2. Space Hopper Ball with Free Pump, Kangaroo Bouncer, Hippity Hop, and Bouncing Toy from GreEco – These exciting and stimulating toys for children with autism encourage them to exercise and strengthen their bodies in an enjoyable way. The toy is recommended by educators, physical and occupational therapists, and other health professionals due to its effectiveness in improving a child’s proprioceptive input and vestibular orientation. Amazon.com sells this product for $10.99.
3. Bilibo Original Pink Toy from ActivePeople – Made from non-toxic, shock-resistant, durable, and high-density polyethylene material, this activity toy encourages children on the spectrum to create, play, and enjoy their own games in an active and creative way. Designed in Switzerland and the winner of countless awards, this cool toy for kids can be used indoors and outdoors, in water, in a sand-pit, and even in the snow. Buy this product on Amazon.com for only $29.99.
4. Hopper Ball Jumping Hopping Hippity Hop Ball from Bintiva – This hopping toy promotes active play and exercise among children with spectrum disorder by encouraging activities like jumping. It also helps children learn how to balance themselves. The toy provides proprioceptive input and orients the vestibular system. The hopper ball has a textured non-slip handle to ensure maximum stability. The product costs $13.99 at Amazon.com.
For children with tactile sensory needs:
1. Crystal Water Gel Beads from Sooper Beads – This best-selling toy on Amazon.com is a recommended gift for special needs children with tactile sensory condition. The beads may encourage play in children due to their enticing, colorful appearance. The product helps improve processing skills and fine motor development of children on the spectrum. These fun toys can also be used in a thousand other ways, such as decorations, vase fillers, and wedding centerpieces. It can be purchased at a very affordable $4.99.
2. Tactile Toy Assortment Bundle from Curious Minds Busy Bags – This product package contains five sensory tactile toys with a variety of textures. These sensory processing toys are the mesh bubble ball, the colorful Clinging Orb plastic balls, the Playfoam nontoxic modeling compound, the Hair Ball puffer ball, and the Stretchy String super long coiled string. This toy package can be bought at Amazon.com for $26.99.
3. Playfoam Combo 8-Pack toys from Educational Insights – This non-stick product contains sensory therapy toys that can be squished, squashed, rolled, and sculpted by children with tactile sensory needs to create various shapes and figures. This toy bundle helps promote tactile exploration, develop visual artistic ability, and encourage creative play. These types of toys are also wonderful gift ideas for teens with autism. Get this product on Amazon.com for only $7.04.
4. Easy-grip Soft Foam Sensory Puzzle Blocks from Edushape – These soft and colorful blocks help children with autism satisfy their sensory and visual cravings. This recommended building toy also helps develop a child’s spatial, logic, and reasoning skills. This small,18-piece toy for kids is available on Amazon.com at a discounted price of $19.99.
For children with visual sensory needs:
1. Liquid Motion Bubbler for Sensory Play from Super Z Outlet – This suggested sensory stimulation toy features descending colored bubbles that will surely soothe with visual sensory needs. This visually-stimulating toy offers endless hours of calming entertainment as it never runs out of energy. When the bubbles stop, just flip the toy over and they will start again. You can buy this toy for $5.99 at Amazon.com.
2. Light Show Stick Visual Toy by From Heart To Heart – This battery-operated toy is a good stress reliever for children with visual sensory needs. This recommended sensory lights toy features multicolored lights that are sure to calm its users. This great gift for autistic kids can be bought at Amazon.com for $19.99.
3. Water Wigglies by4E’s Novelty – This five inch Water Wigglie is filled with cool liquid and beads. It can be refrigerated for further sensory integration. The toy comes in a variety of colors for children and the mesmerizing filling serves as effective stress relievers for children with visual sensory needs. This sensory tool for autism costs $13.99 at Amazon.com.
4. Aasha’s Sphere Ball Flashing Bouncy Ball by Leopolis – This recommended toy for visual sensory-seeking kids features colorful stars that are interwoven around a light up hi-bounce ball. When the sphere ball is bounced, it activates a multicolored light show that will surely stimulate the visual senses of children with autism. This recommended gift for special needs kids is available at Amazon.com for $17.97.
5. Squee-Z-Bubbles Stress Relief Fidget Toy by Leopolis – This squeeze-and-release water toy produces bubbles that float into the air to provide visual stimulation and calm children with visual sensory needs. The assorted bubble makers include a blowfish, a ladybug, a butterfly, and a caterpillar. This toy also helps improve a child’s finger strength and visual tracking skills. This recommended special gift for autistic kids costs $14.80 at Amazon.com.
When searching for a present, be sure to remember that children with autism have very specific needs. Once you define these needs, as well as the child’s likes and dislikes, finding just the right gift for someone you love can be trouble-free. Don’t forget also to consider gifts for moms of autistic kids who work hard year-round to provide their children with the love and support they deserve.
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Autism Parenting Magazine tries to deliver honest, unbiased reviews, resources, and advice, but please note that due to the variety of capabilities of people on the spectrum, information cannot be guaranteed by the magazine or its writers. Medical content, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images and other material contained within is never intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of a physician with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read within.