Finding a perfect gift for an autistic child can be a big challenge but there are many wonderful options, some of which you can see on our list of best gifts for autistic children. Basic things that you need to consider when buying things for an autistic child is the same as with every other child: it should be age appropriate, thoughtful and according to that child’s unique interest. The challenge lies in choosing the gift that they like but that builds their skills at the same time. In order to choose a gift that suits an autistic child’s needs, it is important to realize that children with autism spectrum disorder can be oversensitive (and undersensitive as well) to various stimuli including noise, light, temperature, etc. You can find some ideas on our list of 7 Best Board Games for Children with Autism.
The dysfunctional sensory system in children (and adults) with autism may be the underlying reason for repetitive behaviors which often include spinning, rocking, hand-clapping, etc. Sensory integration focuses on three basic senses: proprioceptive, tactile and vestibular. The dysfunctional tactile can be noticed if a child is withdrawing when being touched, avoids various foods and avoids getting his/her hands dirty. The dysfunctional vestibular system can be noticed if a child is either afraid of activities such as climbing the stairs, swinging spinning or is drawn to repetitive actions such as excessive jumping, spinning, etc. Proprioceptive system imbalance is present if a child has odd body posture, difficulty manipulating small objects and resistance to acquiring new motor skills.
You are probably wondering how this is relevant since you are only looking to buy a perfect gift for an autistic child. Well, every autistic child responds differently to various items and situations and his/her behavior can give you precious insight into what might benefit him/her. Once you determine the senses that require attention, it will be easier for you to choose a gift. For example, toys that stimulate vestibular system are toys such as trampolines, rocking horses, swings, etc. Tactile system is stimulated by finger paint, molding clay and proprioceptive system by hammocks, bean bags, etc. Many toys tickle different senses at the same time and the child can benefit a lot while playing with your perfect gift. Besides that, it is also good if your gift will help a child to develop his/her social interaction.
In order to compile this list of best gifts for children with autism, I focused mainly on advice from websites focusing on autism spectrum disorder and toys and gifts for children with autism chosen by parents who have experience with autistic children. These include: Cafe mom, National Autism Resources (I also considered their offer according to age groups and skills targeted by a specific toy), CBS News list compiled by parents and Toys”R”Us Toy Guide for “Differently-Abled Kids” who also created shopping lists according to various skills. Recommendations on this list of best gifts for children with autism contain most frequently mentioned gifts, including specific toys as well as more general ones such as books and puzzles (of course specific recommendations will be included). I chose gifts that include various skills in order to have a variety of choices. The order of gifts on this list is random because one idea can be bad for one child and absolutely thrilling gift for another, hence making ranking impossible. We give ideas, and you make the final decision when it comes to best gifts for autistic children. Let’s take a look: