Holiday Gift Guide For Autistic Children
As a parent of a child with autism, I know how frustrating it can be to find Christmas gifts your child will actually enjoy. Over the years, I have bought dinosaurs, cars, trucks, and trains (just to name a few). My son would show the initial excitement of tearing off the wrapping paper to see what Christmas gift was inside. However, beyond that he typically lost interest. The new toys would sit on a shelf and he would not play with them. I’m sure I’m not the only parent that has wondered, What do I get my autistic child for Christmas?
After trial and error, I have found gifts that my son actually enjoys and that we can play with together. So I have created a holiday gift guide for kids with autism that I hope you will find helpful too. For the 12 days of Christmas, I have 12 Christmas gift ideas for children on the autism spectrum. For all my Teachers, OT, PT, and SLPs you can also use these items in the classroom with your students!
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Tetris Pop-it Puzzle
This Tetris Pop-it Puzzle is a great sensory toy and engaging at the same time. My son loves Tetris and pop-it fidgets; so this was the perfect item. He enjoys playing with the pop-its and putting them together like a puzzle. My son was able to assemble the puzzle several times without my help. He enjoys humming the Tetris song as he assembles the puzzle and it’s an activity we can do together. You can also use the pop-its to create your own puzzles.
Pop-it Pencil Case
Speaking of Pop-its, my son loves this Pop-it Pencil Case. He is able to keep all of his pencils, crayons, erasers, and other art supplies in it. The pencil case zips up and is easy to keep clean. He uses one at home and one at school. This item is a great sensory tool, it’s functional, and fun at the same time.
Sensory Body Sock
This sensory body sock is a full body wrap made of a lightweight fabric that stimulates deep pressure. When my son puts this on, he feels calm, more balanced, and it helps him focus. The body sock comes in a variety of colors and sizes; and it snaps in the front. The stretch fabric makes it easy for my son to put on and take off.
Sensory Pea Pod
The Sensory Pea Pod is an inflatable sensory chair that snuggles your child in a hug. It provides deep pressure and helps your child feel safe and secure. It’s made of vinyl and built to last. My son loves to sit in his sensory chair to read books and listen to soothing music on his headphones. For added comfort, he sometimes likes for me to put a blanket on top of him. The sensory pea pod comes with an air pump and inflates in minutes. It’s light weight and easy to carry around.
The sensory crash pad is a landing zone for children to jump and crash into for sensory input. It helps children to get rid of some of their excess energy; therefore, helping them to relax. My son enjoys jumping and laying on his sensory crash pad; and it is also very calming for him. The cover is made of a nylon material, so it’s easy to keep clean; and has foam blocks on the inside. It’s firm on the outside and soft enough for kids to jump on without getting hurt.
A weighted blanket provides deep pressure that calms and soothes the nervous system. It helps to reduce sensory overload, which leads to better sleep. My son enjoys using this weighted blanket at night and sometimes he will use it while reading on the sofa. It has a general calming affect and it helps him relax. The fabric is very soft and smooth to the touch; it also doesn’t get too hot while sleeping.
Grab my Winter Cut and Fold FREEBIE for more Winter Themed Activities.
Books are a great way to engage with your child and spend some quality time. These are three of my son’s favorite books. All Cats Are On The Autism Spectrum is a great book to talk with your child about autism. It talks about all the great things about being on the autism spectrum and also the challenges. Your child can even take it to school to share with their class. Ricky, The Rock That Couldn’t Roll teaches children about empathy and the importance of including others. It is also a great story about friendship and how the characters in the book all work together to achieve a common goal. The Invisible String is also one of our favorites. If you have a child that has separation anxiety, then I highly recommend this book. It is also a great story to talk with your child about friends that moved away or the loss of a loved one. It teaches children that we are always connected with an invisible string; and that we are never far apart.
Kinetic Sand is also another great activity that provides sensory and tactile input. It’s made from natural sand, but it sticks together for easy cleanup. My son really enjoys this kinetic sand set that includes a tray to put your sand, 3 molds, mini-shovel, and more. He prefers the blue kinetic sand. Another great thing about this set, is that you can add additional sand to it. I recommend keeping the kinetic sand in a sealed container.
Playdoh Kitchen Creations
Playdoh is a classic tried and true activity that my son loves! He especially likes the kitchen creation series. We enjoy making grilled cheese with the sandwich playdoh set, baking pizza with the pizza playdoh set, and making tacos with the taco playdoh set. It is another sensory activity that my son finds engaging. You can follow the instructions to make the food or get creative and do your own thing.
Jumbo Floor Puzzle
This jumbo floor puzzle is great for increasing social interactions with your child. Puzzles encourage independent learning and promotes social skills. My son loves puzzles and learning about the different states, so this was the perfect fit for him. What I like about this floor puzzle, is that it gets children up and moving around, it increases social interaction, and it encourages children to work together.
The Picasso Tiles are a fun and engaging activity that encourages creativity. The tiles are magnetic and stick together to build and create a masterpiece. My son saw these at the local library and we liked it so much, we got some for home! It’s also good for working on colors and shapes. You can encourage social skills by playing this activity with your child.
Whale Sensory Nightlight
Let me start by saying this item is so much more than just a nightlight! This whale sensory nightlight is by far one of my son’s favorite sensory items. The whale lights up and is made of a soft squishy material. When you push on the whale, it lights up and changes colors. It has a total of 7 different colors that are static or rotate. My son finds this to be very soothing. He uses this anytime we are going to unfamiliar events, large gatherings, or other settings that may cause him to be anxious. It charges, so you never have to worry about batteries. Definitely a must-have and it’s a great calming activity!
Best Gifts for Autistic Kids
I hope that you enjoyed this Christmas list and it gives you some great ideas to use with your child this holiday season. I have included all of the things I find to be successful with my son. Leave me a comment and let me know how these activities work for you!