The holiday season brings families closer together to enjoy quality time, fun festivities, and often gift exchanges. Having a child with ASD doesn’t have to change the spirit of the season. Many children are thrilled to tell you what they hope to receive from Santa. If you’re hoping to purchase a gift for a child with ASD, it may be wise to ask their caregiver for advice.  If you’re looking for additional ideas then we hope that the tips below are helpful.

Many individuals with ASD enjoy activities that stimulate the senses.  Some parents believe that weighted blankets can help their child relax after a busy day.  Textured items can be fun to interact with, and many children find the novelty of touching the surfaces enjoyable.  Your child may enjoy experimenting with “fidget toys,” which often combine lights, sounds, and movement into a single item. For children who might be resistant to playing with the kind of sand found at most playgrounds, kinetic sand is an excellent gateway.  

For children who enjoy problem solving and experimentation, there are a variety of Rubix-type cubes available, ranging from easy to very difficult.  Magnet sets are also popular with children who like to investigate and experiment. Puzzles are a great option; you should be able to find one that matches your child’s favorite characters, and they can be great turn taking and socialization activities.

For children with a creative streak, Model Magic clay is a colorful and easy-to-clean-up alternative to traditional clay. Travel coloring/activity books with pens included are available in every theme possible and are great things to have on hand during restaurant outings.  Legos are always a safe bet for children of all ages. Just be sure to find a set that can be safely used by your child; Lego makes sets of varying sizes to ensure children won’t choke on the pieces.

On the practical side, noise machines can be a great gift for children who are light sleepers or who would benefit from the drowning out of external auditory stimuli throughout their day, like during homework time.  There are also a whole host of new visual timers to help children keep track of time. There are even wristwatch versions so kids can easily take their timer on the road!