Gift for an Autistic Child
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Choosing a gift for an autistic child takes some imagination. But once you get the hang of it, it's amazing what you'll come up with.
Giving a gift to a child with autism gives you the perfect chance to help them, so try to keep that in mind.
The BEST gift for an autistic child:
The very best gift for an autistic child is being involved with them and their lives! Yeah, we know... It's awkward, uncomfortable, stressful and takes a LOT of patience. And if it's like that for you, just imagine how hard it is for the child (and their parents!)
But spend time with them! And then... KEEP DOING IT!
That tells the child and the parents that you "get it", and that you really, truly care, which is the most important gift of all.
Gift for an Autistic Child - "Wynn's Words" Alphabet Book:
Does your child love dogs? How about bright colors, patterns and shapes?
Wynn the Dog brings color and joy to children of ALL ages as he shows off his "Wynn's Words"!
Measuring 8 by 10 inches, "Wynn's Words" is a book that can grow with your child's understanding. First they'll love the bright colors, then as their understanding and comprehension grow, they'll enjoy the detailed and joyful pictures that demonstrate each letter of the alphabet.
Together with your child, you can use this adorable book to discover and play with letters and to explore the sounds and meanings of words.
Gift for an Autistic Child - Visual Calendar:
Created by a mother and teacher in Canada, the "My Week" calendar is a wonderful gift idea for an autistic child AND their parents!
Measuring 13 1/8 by 8 1/8 inches, the colorful "My Week" calendar uses different colors for different days of the week, and comes with 58 magnetic pictures to help show the week's plans.
This delightful calendar also comes with various weather pictures, and offers a place at the top to show the day's weather.
Life with an autistic child is much easier when they have some idea of 'what's coming next', and this calendar can help with that in a fun and easy way.
You can purchase your "My Week" calendar at 2Fish Kids. It's a Canadian company but they'll ship to the US, Australia, etc.
Gift for an Autistic Child - Kaleidoscope:
Who isn't fascinated by an old fashioned kaleidoscope?
The ever-changing scenery inside a kaleidoscope could keep anyone entertained for quite awhile!
You have your choice of the ones that have bits of colored glass or plastic inside, creating beautiful geometric patterns, or the ones that use mirrors to show ordinary, everyday things as objects of wonder and delight when looked at through this magical tube! There are even ones filled with glitter (ooooo, ahhhh!!!)
A kaleidoscope can also be used to practice the art of sharing, either between children or even between a child with autism and a parent.
Amazon has a great selection of kaleidoscopes, and you can probably find them at hobby shops, toy stores and museum shops, too.
Gift for an Autistic Child - Train based:
A train trip with Santa, or a visit to a model railroad layout.
If your autistic child likes Thomas the Tank Engine, obviously another train for the collection would be nice. But another gift for that autistic child might be to see a model train display, or to ride an actual train.
We've done this for several years at Christmas. Each year we've taken Lucas to see a model train layout or on a short train ride. We found opportunities for either option within a couple of hour's drive of our home, which turned these gifts into a nice, day long outing for the entire family.
On either site, just find a group in your area, and see if they have a calendar of events or a "Christmas" or "Holiday" event link.
* Another gift idea for an autistic child: these sites also have things like train calendars and signs!
Gift for an Autistic Child - Based on their favorites:
Action figures, board games or clothes based on their favorite TV or DVD characters.
We all know how easy it is to let our children jell in front of a TV or computer screen. But a child who already has social and communication problems could get a lot more out of a book, a game or playing with action figures, giving you and the family a chance to play with them!
Lucas LOVES the "Back to the Future" movies and cartoon series. He has received many "Back to the Future" cars, characters and books over the years from the web store bttf.com.
As we've worked with him to read about, play with and decorate his room with his "BTTF" collection, these gifts have really helped Lucas to expand his social and play skills,.
Many popular TV shows and movies have developed fan followings, and if you Google them, you may find a place that sells merchandise relating to that show or movie.
We've also found some really fun clothing and other items on sites like CafePress (you can even design and make your OWN gift for an autistic child there!)
Gift for an Autistic Child - Building:
A set of simple wooden blocks is a great gift for an autistic child who likes either trains (see above) or building.
We gave Lucas a set, hoping that he would use them to build "buildings" for his trains. It worked, and we spent many years with a Thomas layout in our living room that featured all sorts of structures made of wooden blocks.
Those blocks also took Lucas into the idea that he could use other items to build things. That both opened his imagination and at times, reminded us of how a gift for an autistic child could backfire (like when he used a razor to try and make a telephone pole; it had that same "T" shape!)
Barclay Wood Blocks offers maple blocks in a huge variety of sets, all made in the USA. They also have links to some other great sites that might inspire you!
Gift for an Autistic Child - Book ideas:
A good book.
Another great gift for an autistic child is the right book. Whether it's a "touch me" type of book with different textures throughout it, a book of his favorite TV character, or, as in Lucas' case, a story book from his favorite movie (Back to the Future), books can open up a world away from the TV, which expands a child's thinking.
Other books Lucas has enjoyed are "Look Alikes" which have entire scenes built with unusual objects, and the "I Spy" series.
Books can also give a parent the chance to start "reading time". "Reading" was part of Lucas and his brother's bedtime routine from the beginning, which gave us time to laugh together at Frog and Toad, helped him to understand emotions ("look, Rabbit's mad because Tigger ruined his garden again"), and practice communicating AND listening.
Amazon.com is where we buy most of Lucas' books.
Gift for an Autistic Child - Exercise AND fun:
If your child is hyperactive, a 36" diameter mini-trampoline might be the perfect gift.
We had one in our living room for years, and Lucas could jump on it for as long as he wanted, giving him a chance to expend energy, helping him to sleep at night, and compressing his joints, which was good for him (I don't understand how that works, I just know it does!)
NOTE: Keep the child's height in mind on this one; we eventually had to get rid of the trampoline when Lucas got so tall that he was in danger of banging his head on the ceiling when he jumped.
You can find a mini-trampoline at WalMart and other stores.
Gift for an Autistic Child - Encourage language:
A "Chatimal" is a terrific gift for an autistic child, because it's fun, funny AND educational.
Toys like a Chatimal are fun for everyone in the family; talk into the animal and it repeats what you say in a silly voice.
Lucas has a similar toy called Henry, the Talking Gnome, and has great fun with it. Chatimals are the same idea (you can even hold them up to the TV and let them repeat your child's favorite cartoon character!)
Gift for an Autistic Child - Unusual ideas:
Puzzles, posters, etc.
We've found some great t-shirts and posters of dinosaurs and the planets, along with other fun items like planet mobiles (Lucas really enjoyed assembling and painting it, with our help), animal shaped flashlights and 3-D puzzles, at various museum and nature shops.
These stores specialize in unique and unusual items, and if you've never explored one, you're in for a surprise. They have things you just don't see in other stores, and you'll probably find something for ALL the kids on your list.
There are great gift ideas at the American Museum of Natural History, but check out any local museum stores, too. An internet search for 'museum stores' will turn up some great places!
Gift for an Autistic Child - Independent Living Aids:
Don't forget, LucasWorks has some great gifts for an autistic child, too!
One last thing - You might want to run your gift choice by the child's parents. It really helps sometimes to have no surprises, especially when it's Christmas and you have a gift for an autistic child...
See previous articles on autism to the left, next to our current article.
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