Autism Gift Giving Guide

Christmas Parents

Autism Holiday Gift Giving Guide The Noah Robert Project

Purchasing gifts for children on the spectrum doesn't have to be intimidating. With a little knowledge of the child's sensory needs, paired with our Autism Gift Giving Guide, we are certain your presents will be therapeutic and well received!

Tips for making the right purchases: 

  • Know if the child is a sensory seeker or avoider.
  • Sensory seekers are undersensitive to input.
  • Some classic traits of a sensory seeker are: chewing, fidgeting, jumping, spinning, constant movement and enjoy touching, squeezing and petting objects and others.
  • Products that keep hands busy and assist in movement are great gift ideas for sensory seekers.
  • Sensory avoidance is due to an over sensitivity to input.
  • Loud noises, bright lights, different textures, and new foods can be difficult for those who avoid input.
  • Products that provide deep pressure or slow visuals can soothe and offer self-regulation for sensory avoiders.
Developmental & Educational Toys

Developmental and Educational Toys are anything that stimulates learning.  These gifts will often serve an educational purpose while assisting in the development of certain skills. Look for items that will help a child master a skill, like tying their shoes or identifying shapes and colors but are also fun and engaging.

  1. Wooden Rainbow Stacker
  2. Lacing Beads
  3. Matching Eggs
  4. Stacking Pegs
  5. Activity Cube
  6. Shape Sorter
  7. Dancing Ball
  8. Alphabet Acorns
  9. Hide & Seek Alphabet Pop-Up
  10. Busy Ball Popper

Gift Giving Tips:

  • Some developmental and manipulative toys can come with small objects. Be mindful of this should the child still mouth or chew objects.
  • Some toys may have a suggested age range, quiet possibly much younger than the child your purchasing for. Remember, a toy that meets a sensory need and is enjoyable to the autistic child is what matters most.
  • Some developmental toys require batteries so be sure to check product description when purchasing. I recommend purchasing batteries to complete your gift so it can be enjoyed when received.

Manipulative Toys

Manipulative toys are wonderful teaching tools. Look for toys that encourage mathematical skill development, counting, sorting, stacking and learning patterns. These toys usually offer great tactile and sensory input as well.

  1. Super Building Set
  2. Stack It Pegs
  3. Interlocking Building Blocks
  4. Spike the Fine Motor Hedgehog 
  5. Magma Tiles
  6. Counting Cookies
  7. Shapes Bean Bags
  8. Gears! Gears! Gears!
  9. Alphabet Acorns
  10. Counting Bears
Gift Giving Tip:
  • Find out what manipulatives the child enjoys at school or therapy. Shopping for different variations of a child's favorite toy can help when deciding what to buy.
  • Some manipulatives may come with small parts, ask the caregiver if it safe for their particular child.

Fidget Toys

Tactile manipulatives, also known as fidget toys, have been proven to improve cognitive function and performance. These fun little gadgets can be calming and also help control impulsivity and self-regulating behaviors.

  1. Dimpl Toy
  2. Stretchy String Fidget
  3. Tangle Twister Fidget
  4. Fidget Flippy Chain
  5. Snake Cube Twist
  6. Spiky Slap Bracelet 
  7. Squeezing Fidget Toys
  8. Squishies
  9. Rainbow Puzzle Ball
  10. Sensory Stress Ball
Gift Giving Tip:
  • Some fidgets are not safe for oral exploration. Find out if the child mouths items before purchasing.

Calming Toys

Calming toys can help manage self-regulation, combat stress, ease anxiety and provide soothing input. Items that are weighted, offer slow-moving visuals, or squeeze (or need to be squeezed) are key when purchasing calming toys.

  1. Liquid Motion Bubbles
  2. Sequin Blanket
  3. Weighted Blanket
  4. Hug-a-Roo Compression Sheets
  5. Glitter Wand
  6. Body Sock
  7. Calming Bottles
  8. Thinking Putty
  9. Kinetic Sand
  10. Jumbo Fluffy Slime
Gift Giving Tip:
  • Weighted blankets make for an amazing gift, but to receive its full benefits, purchase according to the child's weight. This will ensure proper therapeutic input. 
  • For children, weighted blankets should weigh roughly 10% of the child's total body weight. For older teens and adults add 2 lbs of additional 2 lbs of weight.

Chewy Tools

Oral sensory input, such as biting, chewing and sucking, is one of the most effective ways to self-regulate and support focus. If you know a child that may bite themselves, chew on their clothes, or put non-edible objects in their mouth, consider one of these items to help meet their oral sensory needs.

  1. Shark Tooth Chew Necklace
  2. Chewy Tube
  3. Block Chew Necklace
  4. Spikey Sensory Toy Rings
  5. Extra Large Chew Aide
  6. Cookie Chew Necklace
  7. Lego Man Chewy
  8. Bitey Beads
  9. Race Car Chew Necklace
  10. Munchables Pearl and Rose Necklace

Gift Giving Tip:

  • Chewy tools should be listed as non-toxic, lead-free, latex-free, and free of PVC or phthalates. Check the description and labels before purchasing.

Speech & Language

For those with speech delay and nonverbal communication, social interaction can be a challenge. This list provides toys & tools that support skills learned and encourage further language development, in a fun and supportive way.

  1. Interactive Alphabet Wall Chart
  2. Thought-Spot Cards
  3. Leap Frog 100 Words Book
  4. Communication Book with ASL
  5. Coding Critters
  6. My Pal Scout
  7. LCD Doodle Board
  8. Recordable Answer Buzzers
  9. Spinning Lights Learning Hippo
  10. Position Word Activity Set

Gift Giving Tip:

  • Do not assume that a nonverbal child would not benefit, nor enjoy toys that focus on language skills.
  • Ask the child's caregiver what tools/toys they enjoy during speech therapy. This can help you when searching for this type of gift.
  • Some toys may require batteries so be sure to check product description when purchasing. I recommend purchasing batteries to complete your gift so it can be enjoyed when received.

Pretend Play

Pretend play, or sometimes defined as role-play, is anything that assists in using one's imagination to act out a character or life situation. For children on the spectrum, toys that assist in this type of play provide opportunities to develop social relationships, learn and act out daily living skills and encourage language and communication. Look for items that are familiar and fun to explore.

  1. Dyson Ball Kids Vacuum
  2. Pretend Cutting Food Playset
  3. Barn Friends Hand Puppets
  4. Mr. Potato Head
  5. Bubble Mower
  6. Fisher-Price Little People
  7. Record Microphone
  8. Kids Toy Guitar
  9. Medical Kit for Kids
  10. Sweet Manor Tea Set 

Gift Giving Tip:

  • Find out if there is a household item the child is drawn to but is not appropriate to play with. Find the toy version for the child to enjoy!
  • Costumes are a great gift for children who are drawn to a specific profession or field.
  • Some toys may require batteries so be sure to check product description when purchasing. I recommend purchasing batteries to complete your gift so it can be enjoyed when received.

Water Play

Swimming meets so many sensory needs important for those on the spectrum but sometimes hitting the pool is not possible. Gifting items that provide an opportunity to enjoy therapeutic water play is perfect for those needing to strengthen their self-regulation abilities and desiring calming input.

  1. Water Beads
  2. See Through Water Table
  3. Splash Pad
  4. Inflatable Kiddie Pool
  5. Waterfall Discovery Wall
  6. Palm Tree Sprinkler
  7. Rainbow Arch Sprinkler
  8. Water Beads with Playmat
  9. Aquarium for Kids
  10. Water Activity Table

Gift Giving Tip:

  • An outdoor water toy may not be ideal for those who live in colder temps during the holiday season, so take this into consideration when purchasing.

Lights & Visual StimulationToys and equipment that provide visual stimulation through lights can be stimulating through both vision and touch. Slow color changing lights are soothing, while fast-moving lights can be self-regulating. 

  1. LED Light Projector
  2. Glow Bear
  3. Star Night Light Projector
  4. Light Up Gloves
  5. Light Up Floating Rubber Animals
  6. Orbit Spinner Toy
  7. Fiber Optic Rope
  8. LED Bubble Tube
  9. LED Swimming Fish Tank
  10. Color Changing Light Strip

 Gift Giving Tip:

  • Flashing lights can induce seizures in those with epilepsy. Epilepsy and seizure activity can be a comorbidity of Autism Spectrum Disorder. ASK BEFORE PURCHASING.
  • Some light up may toys require batteries so be sure to check product description when purchasing. I recommend purchasing batteries to complete your gift so it can be enjoyed when received.

Sensory Swings

Sensory swings provide a wide array of input needed for children on the spectrum. Traditional style swinging provides constant motion and body awareness, typically favored by sensory seekers. Compression swings offer deeper sensory input, and a calming experience, typically desired by sensory avoiders.

  1. Pod Swing Seat
  2. Snuggle Swing
  3. Doorway Swing
  4. Hammock Swing Chair
  5. Hanging Tree Tent
  6. Macrame Swing
  7. Brazilian Hammock
  8. Hammock Swing Seat
  9. Flying Saucer Tree Swing
  10. Large Platform Swing

Gift Giving Tip:

  • Some swings have height and weight limits. Check the packaging and follow up with the caregiver.
  • Some swings DO NOT come with the much-needed hardware, so be sure to check the descriptions and packaging. I highly recommend purchasing all items needed to complete your gift.
  • Some children may prefer one form of gross motor input apposed to others listed. Ask, does the child enjoy swinging, rocking, balancing, bouncing, spinning, crashing or climbing? 

    Balancing Equipment

    Developing gross motor skills, along with balance and coordination are essential developmental skills for children on the spectrum. Equipment that promotes balance supports a long list of gross motor skills, all in a fun and active way.

    1. Teeter Popper Rocker
    2. Plasma Car
    3. Rocksteady Balance Builder
    4. True Balance STEM Toy
    5. Safety Guard Scooters
    6. Ezyroller Classic Ride
    7. Monkey Balance Board
    8. Stepping Balance Buckets
    9. Hedgehog Balance Pods
    10. Balance Board With Ball

    Gift Giving Tip:

    • Some balancing equipment may have weight restrictions, be sure to check the description before purchasing.
    • Some children may prefer one form of gross motor input apposed to others listed. Ask, does the child enjoy swinging, rocking, balancing, bouncing, spinning, crashing or climbing? 

      Bouncing Equipment

      Jumping or bouncing can be fun... and relaxing! Bouncing helps develop motor skills and improves coordination. Sensory seekers need the sensation of rebounding for their vestibular and proprioceptive motor issues. Bouncing can help others learn how to properly control their body, and even regulate their emotions while grounded.

      1. Little Tykes Trampoline 
      2. Foam Pogo Jumper
      3. Peanut Ball
      4. Trampoline With Lights
      5. Horse Hopper
      6. Hopp 26" Hop Ball
      7. Rainbow Soft Ball
      8. Bouncing Teeter Totter
      9. Bounce House
      10. Bouncing Swing

      Gift Giving Tip:

      • Some bouncing equipment may have weight restrictions, be sure to check the description before purchasing.
      • Some children may prefer one form of gross motor input apposed to others listed. Ask, does the child enjoy swinging, rocking, balancing, bouncing, spinning, crashing or climbing? 

        Climbing Equipment

        Climbing helps meet numerous developmental needs, from motor planning to problem-solving, while allowing children to feel a sense of achievement for meeting their climbing goals. While climbing a tree is not always possible, offering a way for children to explore through climbing in a controlled setting can be second best!

        1. Climbing Tower
        2. Indoor Playground
        3. Rock Climbing Wall
        4. Climbing Net
        5. Clever Cube
        6. Blocksy Kids Couch
        7. Traverse Climbing
        8. Playground Slide
        9. Outdoor Large Climbing Net
        10. Climbing Rope Tree Swing

        Gift Giving Tip:

        • Some bouncing equipment may have weight restrictions, be sure to check the description before purchasing.
        • Some climbing equipment is large and can take up a lot of space, so be sure to check for measurements.
        • Some children may prefer one form of gross motor input apposed to others listed. Ask, does the child enjoy swinging, rocking, balancing, bouncing, spinning, crashing or climbing? 

          Spinning EssentialsSpinning has a profound impact on the developing brain. When a child spins they are experiencing constant shifts in their weight, depth perception, balance, and the cause and effect of their movements. Spinning is the most powerful form of sensory input that the brain takes in and processes. For children on the spectrum, spinning can also help with self-regulation and stimming behaviors.

          1. Playskool Sit N Spin
          2. Spin Disk
          3. Twist N Spin
          4. Radio Flyer Spin N Saucer
          5. Dizzy Disk
          6. Spinagain Toy
          7. Bounce and Spin Puppy
          8. Fun Zone Dual Twister
          9. Whizzy Dizzy
          10. Sit N Spin Rockin' Tunes

          Gift Giving Tip:

          • Some bouncing equipment may have weight restrictions, be sure to check the description before purchasing.
          • Some children may prefer one form of gross motor input apposed to others listed. Ask, does the child enjoy swinging, rocking, balancing, bouncing, spinning, crashing or climbing? 

            Crash & Landing

            Children who seek out excessive sensory input through "crashing" into walls, objects or people are searching for ways to calm themselves and self-regulate. Crash pads provide a designated (and safe) area for kids land. 

            1. Bean Bag & Crash Pad
            2. Sensory Pad with Foam Blocks
            3. Gym Mat
            4. Incline Wedge
            5. Memory Foam Bean Bag
            6. Foam Filled Bean Bag
            7. Stuffed Animal Storage Bean Bag
            8. Rainbow Foam Tiles
            9. Air Lite Ball Inflatable Ball Pit
            10. Perfect Little Ball Pit

            Gift Giving Tip:

            • Some crashing equipment is large and can take up a lot of space, so be sure to check for measurements.
            • Some children may prefer one form of gross motor input apposed to others listed. Ask, does the child enjoy swinging, rocking, balancing, bouncing, spinning, crashing or climbing? 

              Flexible Seating

              Flexible Seating, or sometimes described as active or dynamic seating, is typically found in the classroom but can be a great gift to utilize at home. Sitting still and in a typical style chair can be challenging for children who need to move in order to process and engage. This can be a challenge when sitting for a meal, needing to do homework or wanting to watch a movie. With a variety of seating options, there's something for every child's sensory needs.

              1. Pea Pod Chair
              2. Liquid Tile Mat
              3. Kore Wobble Chair
              4. Disk O' Sit
              5. Walki Chair Ball
              6. Stability Ball Chair
              7. Bilibo Chair
              8. Stability Stool
              9. Can Do Seating Wedge
              10. Inflatable Core Disk Seat

              Gift Giving Tip:

              • Some seats have weight restriction may have weight restrictions, be sure to check the description before purchasing.

              Happy Shopping, and Happy Holidays! -The Noah Robert Project

              Jump. Flap. Spin. Be You! Jacob has autism and that's ok! Jacob the Flapping Dinosaur Goes to School is the perfect addition to any gift!

              What would you add to our Holiday Gift Giving Guide? what's the best gift your child has yet to receive? We'd love to hear from you. Email us their information at noahrobertproject@gmail.com


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