Gifts for children with autism can be a challenge to find.
It can be tough to shop for a neurotypical child, but when you add special needs to the mix, such as autism, it can become almost overwhelming.
There is a range of skills, abilities and struggles for a child diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
No two children are alike.
This makes it difficult to recommend the “perfect” toys for children with autism.
What one child finds overstimulating may be calming for another.
Please keep that in mind when thinking about a toy on this list.
You know what your child or the child you are working with, likes and doesn’t like.
The toys I am featuring are not geared to a certain age group, as from a learning perspective, developmental age (the age at which the child is functioning) is more important than chronological age (the actual age of the child).
I do want to clarify that this is only true to some extent.
For example, you wouldn’t necessarily want to purchase a Paw Patrol gift for a 12 year old.
The Best Gifts For Kids With Autism
Some of the links in this article may be affiliate links.
As these are gifts, I am choosing items that children will hopefully enjoy receiving.
So there won’t be any pencil grips or weighted blankets.
Although, I highly recommend both of these products (I personally use a weighted blanket to help with insomnia) but not as gifts for a child.
The Sensory Body Sock
A body sock makes the perfect hiding spot when life gets overwhelming.
Encourage your child to climb inside and try walking, jumping, crawling, rolling and stretching to strengthen spacial awareness skills!
You can also incorporate language building activities while your child is using the body sock.
For verbal children, the body sock can also be part of pretend play.
Pretending is often difficult for children with autism, but it’s still an important skill.
My son has the body sock pictured below and loves it! He uses it for sleep and as a method to calm down when he gets frustrated.
It is extremely well made!
Sound puzzles can be very rewarding for a child with autism because there is an instant “response/reward” when the correct puzzle piece is placed – a sound is made.
It’s also a great way for a child to learn about cause and effect.
From a language perspective these puzzles are wonderful for teaching new vocabulary to a child learning to speak.
Puzzles also help facilitate hand eye coordination.
These puzzles can also be used to promote listening skills.
Sound puzzles are available in a variety of themes, from vehicles to zoo animals and many in between!
The only drawback to these puzzles is that if all the pieces are not put back in their proper places in the puzzle, it more often than not will make noise once the puzzle is in a dark spot.
I suggest making sure these puzzles are not in your child’s room or anywhere that they can suddenly startle someone in the night.
Blocks are a simple, tech free learning toy perfect for all children!
Children can learn many skills by playing with blocks (what children learn playing with blocks guest post)
What sets the sensory blocks apart from many others is that their surfaces are textured.
If you have a child who likes to throw or hit with objects then take a look at the Edushape Easy Grip Soft Foam Sensory Puzzle Blocks.
These blocks are soft (so they won’t hurt) and also have small protruding nubs on all sides making them ideal for the child who is seeking sensory input.
The drawback to these blocks is that because they are so lightweight they fall over or get knocked down very easily.
Bristle Blocks also provide sensory stimulation as all sides contain soft interlocking bristles.
They are harder than the foam blocks and can therefore hurt if they are being thrown around.
Fold & Go Trampoline
A small trampoline is perfect for a child with special needs (or any child for that matter).
It’s a great way to work on developing and strengthening gross motor skills in a fun way!
Children who are seeking sensory input can also benefit from a trampoline.
I love the Fold & Go one because it has a handle for the child to hold onto and it can be folded up and stored away in a few minutes.
Compression Sensory Swing
This swing provides a hug like calming effect by allowing for sensory input via compression and swinging.
It’s a durable and well made product that provides vestibular input and deep touch pressure!
The swing can hold up to 200lbs and comes with $30 worth of hardware to make set up easy.
What sets this sensory swing apart from others on the market is that it only stretches width wise so you don’t have to worry about it sagging to the ground.
Squigz are a lot of fun (my kids have them).
But they are also a simple way to practice fine motor skills, creativity and problem solving.
If your child is learning colors it’s also a natural way to talk about colors.
Find It Games
There are many “find it” games to choose from.
I recommend starting with the Original Kids Version if you are not familiar with them.
This is a great toy as it can be used simply for calming and focusing but it can also be used for skill building!
Your child can can also practice and strengthen motor skills, vocabulary, visual recognition, shapes and colors!
The Ultimate Fidget Set
This fidget pack comes with all of the following:
♥ Thera-Cube Fidget
♥ Fidget XT
♥ Koosh Ball
♥ Set of 3 Fidget Pencils
♥ Inside Out Ball
♥ Magic Snake
♥ Infinite Fidget Cube
♥ Moody Face
♥ Bendy Man
♥ Tactile Atom Ball
♥ Set of Squishy Critters
♥ Super Sticky Starfish
♥ Fun Balls of Fun
♥ Squeeze Frog
It’s perfect for children ages 5+ to use at home or in school.
If your child is seeking oral input I would not recommend this set as the items are not meant to be chewed on.
Many of these items would also make great stocking stuffers!
I love chewlery!
Both of my kids had some (they do not have special needs).
My son had a soccer ball necklace as he was always biting the necks and sleeves of his shirts from the time he was 3 until he was about 7.
I taught him to bite on the soccer ball instead of his clothes and this helped save many shirts!
My daughter had a heart necklace and a bracelet, both which could be chewed on, to help with her thumb sucking and nail biting habits.
Chew necklaces are perfect for any child seeking oral stimulation.
Keep in mind that this is going to be a gift, so it should be something the child would enjoy receiving and wearing (there are options for girls and boys!
If you are having a hard time finding the perfect piece of Chewlery you can also do a search for teething necklaces as they are made of similar material and can be chewed on.
Chewlery has come a long way over the last 5 to 10 years.
This type of product was not available when I was working with children with autism and other disabilities.
The occupational therapists I worked with often made their own chew toys from items found at the hardware store.
Now you can even get themed sensory chew necklaces like these LEGO brick ones!
The Oombee Cube is a multi-sensory toy perfect for children seeking sensory input.
But it’s also great for skills building.
This cube is made of BPA free food grade silicone with textured shapes that are safely tethered to the cube.
Your child can play independently or with you while working on fine motor skills, visual spatial skills, tactile exploration, problem solving, shapes and colors!
Another must have sensory toy for kids with autism!
The Teeter Popper by Fat Brain Toys wasn’t actually intentionally designed for children with ASD.
It’s a concave board with silicone suction cups on the bottom.
It can be used in so many different ways and is ideal for stimulation of the senses (the suction cups make popping sounds when they release), imaginative play, improving core strength and stability, gross motor skills, balance and coordination.
Encourage your child to try sitting, standing, laying, kneeling and whatever else they can come up with on the Teeter Popper.
It’s available in a variety of colors!
Many children with autism struggle with certain forms of sensory input.
For many, something as common as water can be a turn off.
But we all know that children (and adults) need to bathe.
Fun bath toys (bath toys article) can help ease the anxiety of water for many children.
The Bubble Bath Whisk is very simple but a lot of fun.
If your child has a strong aversion to water start by using it in a sink or bucket of water.
It’s also great for strengthening motor skills!
And the bubbles it helps make (you need soap in the water for it to work best) can be calming for many children.
Gifts For Kids With Autism Don’t Need To Be Complicated
As you can see most of the gift ideas on this list are suitable for all children.
While there are some that are specific to kids with ASD, you don’t need to find toys marketed specifically to children with special needs.
You know your child best!
Simply choose toys based on your child’s needs and interests!