When it comes to buying gifts for kids on the autism spectrum, you may be at a loss. In times like this, I resort to gift cards or cash. But, if you would like some specific ideas; here is the ultimate autism gift guide from a mom of a non-verbal autistic teenager.
Whether you are referencing this for Christmas or for anytime of the year, it is my hope that this gift guide will be of use!
Toy shopping according to age, trends, and level of fun may work for other children but for kids with autism, a little more thought and time is required when selecting toys. Several factors need to be considered to ensure you end up with the appropriate toys.
- What is the child’s personality trait?
- What are the coping mechanisms of the child?
- Can the toy provide enjoyment to the child?
- Can the toy assist in development?
Such concerns need to be addressed if you are toy shopping for an autistic child. If you do not know where to start, here is a guide to the best types of toy for children with autism. Read on and learn the key things to look for to ensure you end up with toys that are appealing, fun, and beneficial to your child.
Sensory Gift Ideas for Autism
When it comes to sensory stimulation, autistic kids fall into 2 distinct categories where some thoroughly enjoy sensory products while others have sensory difficulties. Whatever side your child falls in, sensory toys would make a great buy as they offer the benefit of being both a source of enjoyment as well as an excellent tool for introducing sensations in a low-key way that does not trigger outbursts.
Sensory toys come in a wide range of options with products for touch (blocks with raised lettering, numbers, or patterns), sound (musical toys), and sight (lava lamp toys) stimulation. There are also sensory toys that offer sensory information to muscles and joints (e.g. trampoline, vibration, and spinning toys). You can also try taking a look at:
- The Ultimate Guide to Water Beads
- The Ultimate Guide to Sensory Swings
- The Ultimate Guide to Sensory Bins
The key to giving your child the full sensory experience is to mix things up by buying different sensory toys. Also, make sure to avoid toys with sensory inputs your child dislikes.
And, of course, if your child has PICA or has a tendency to mouth items, you will also need to be mindful of materials.
Gifts that Encourage Social Skills
One of the biggest challenges that autistic children face is impaired social skills. Oftentimes, this lack of social skills is a source of frustration whereby autistic kids get irritated when unable to interact with the wider world. This is why socially interactive toys such as board games, language development play sets, and cause-and-effect toys make a great play tool for children with autism.
Such toys teach essential social skills such as cooperation, sustaining a conversation, and so on while also helping autistic kids develop good coping mechanisms when interacting with others.
Fine Motor Gift Ideas
Another area where autistic kids struggle with is performing motor skills where precise movement of muscles is required to perform a specific task. Toys that promote motor skills can therefore help to improve the quality of life for a child with autism. With the presence of a ton of toys that motivate motor skills, it is advisable to shop according to your child’s motor skill impairment.
For instance, options such as LEGOS, art & craft toys, and board games with small pieces would make an ideal toy for autistic kids who struggle with tasks that involve the use of hands and fingers. Alternatively, spin sits, trampolines, and bicycles are more suited for kids who have problems with postural stability and balance.
Language Development Gift Ideas
Kids who have speech and language disabilities have a hard time learning things that other kids are learning at the same age. One of the best ways to help them understand words, colors, and phrases better is by investing in toys that will allow them to learn how to pronounce words in an easier way. Wooden block letter sets are some of the best used toys for children with speech and language disabilities. There are several different ways you can use letter blocks to help kids.
Gift Guide Closing Notes
When it comes to buying toys for children with autism, make sure to focus on toys that will stimulate their senses. Because most kids with autism have sensory problems, they have to be introduced to tangible things in a non-threatening way and in such a way that they can understand and remember.