It’s the most wonderful time! Twinkle lights are strung, cookies are baking, and holiday song are on repeat. It’s also time to shop for the prefect gifts for young and old.
Often, special considerations can and should be made when gift-giving to children with autism spectrum disorder. What toys will stimulate without overwhelming? Which toys are simultaneously fun and educational? What toys can parents feel good about giving?
Shoppers have many options, but they’re not all equal. So, we put together a list of some of the most popular educational, calming, and sensory gifts that children with autism spectrum disorder will enjoy…as will every young one on your list!
For ages 0-4
Simple First Words: Let’s Talk (Priddy Books)
By pressing the buttons and matchings the sounds to the pictures again and again, children will enjoy learning simple first words and developing their speech with this interactive book.
Sound Puzzles (Melissa & Doug)
Match the puzzle piece on the puzzle board and your child’s favorite pet will “speak” with a meow, woof, or tweet! With seven different themes, there’s bound to be one to match your child’s interests while encouraging problem-solving and independent play.
Wiggly Giggly Ball
Your child will be rewarded with a giggle every time they move or shake it! With bright colors and indentations to make grasping easier, the Wiggly Giggle Ball encourages gross motor movement while reinforcing cause-and-effect and hand-eye coordination. Your child will be rewarded with a giggle every time they move or shake it! With bright colors and indentations to make grasping easier, the Wiggly Giggle Ball encourages gross motor movement while reinforcing cause-and-effect and hand-eye coordination.
For children ages 4-8
Jumpsmart Trampoline (Diggin Active)
For kids who enjoy physical activity or need to work on their balance, an indoor trampoline is an excellent option. The Jumpsmart Trampoline’s fun learning games and silly songs will keep them active and learning all day long.
One of the most popular toys among children, LEGO® blocks not only encourage creativity and imagination, they assist in the development of fine motor skills, cognitive skills, and sensorimotor skills. LEGO® blocks are available in a variety of sizes appropriate for all developmental ranges.
Give a Flip (Fun and Function)
Stomp and catch! Physical play can help improve hand-eye coordination while working off excess energy. With Give a Flip, your child places a beanbag on one end, stomps their foot on the other end, and catches the beanbag in the air. This coordination game is perfect for encouraging visual tracking, motor planning, and persistence.
For ages 8–12
Weighted items make great gifts. Whether you choose a weighted blanket or even a weighted stuffed animal, these items offer deep pressure therapy—helping calm down the nervous system and reducing anxiety. While they tend to be on the more expensive side, they are designed to hold up to years of use. (If choosing a weighted blanket, you’ll want to get one that is 10 percent of the child’s body weight, plus a pound or two.)
Socially Speaking Board Game (Didax Educational Resources)
Children with autism spectrum disorder can find it difficult to interact with others. Teaching basic skills like listening, greeting someone, and giving a compliment, this game provides a way to practice social interactions in a fun format.
Glittering Vortex Lamp
Similar to a traditional lava lamp, sparkly glitter swirls around as the lamp cycles through enchanting colors. This lamp is a soothing visual sensory tool for calming kids before transitions, for sensory breaks, or before bedtime.
Want more ideas? Look at these guides from other notable autism organizations to help you choose the best gifts this season: