I can think of hundreds of reasons why gift shopping for someone with autism is enough to make you want to call quits on the whole Christmas malarkey. However, given that you have clicked on this article, I believe it’s fairly safe to say that you probably have a hundred more.
So instead of giving you the spiel about what makes buying a gift for someone with autism so difficult, today I thought I would dive straight in at the deep end with my list of 8 great gift ideas, to buy for someone on the spectrum.
Links to relevant pages can be found by clicking any text in red. This is not a sponsored post.
[Disclaimer: I have tried to gather a broad range of gift ideas for today’s article. However, I’m aware that at every point on the spectrum is a group of people all with different personalities and preferences. Despite this, I believe my list really does have something for everyone and will be categorised and separated according.]
1. Sensory Boxes.
Starting off today’s post is the gift that keeps on giving; sensory boxes by My Sensory Crate is a monthly subscription service which bring a variety of new sensory friendly toys straight to your door, each month.
With everything from slime monsters to educational musical instruments, this gift is intended for people on the spectrum considered to need a lot of support but from what I have seen online, I believe there is something here to please everyone. Additionally, 10% of all purchases goes to the National Autistic Society, so you can feel good whilst giving something great.
2. Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur.
Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur is an all ages comic book series which, in recent years, has become a favourite of mine. Set in the Marvel universe (which means, yes, there are appearances from the X-Men, Doctor Strange, The Hulk and more) MG + DD follows Lunella Lafayette, a 10 year old genius who doesn’t understand social norms and struggles to make friends (sound familiar?).
One day, when Luenella is out experimenting, she bumps into a big red T-Rex: Devil Dinosaur. Despite their obvious differences the two become fast friends. MG + DD is a great introduction to comics and covers many topics that people with autism will relate to. It’s an easy read, which will have you grinning from ear to ear with each new issue. It’s fun, it’s got heart and did I mention it has a giant red dinosaur!?
3. A Day Out.
For most people affected by sensory issues, a day out can often feel like the further thing from a gift. Thankfully times have changed and there are now tons of opportunities to treat someone on the spectrum to a special experience they will only find out in the open.
From Zoo trips to Cinema screenings, all it takes is a quick google/call to see if a local business will dim their lights and reduce the volume for people with autism. Meaning that those impossible adventures are now just a question away.
Please remember there is a difference between sensory friendly and autism friendly: with the prior including additional assistance to help autistic people better process what is going on at the event.
4. A Fidget Spinner.
Granted, it’s not the most original gift idea that you will find on this list, but surely the undeniable popularity that these stimulating gadgets have seen over the course of 2017, is enough to warrant some serious consideration.
Though the jury is still out on whether or not these simple spinners truly offer as much support to people with autism as many online articles will lead you to believe, the extensive variety (as well as the super low prices) that can be found on site like Amazon, make them a great gift, if only to fill up a stocking.
5. Kids Like Us (or any of the other brilliant autism based books from this year).
Over the past few months, I have been working my way through a plethora of autism related books from 2017 (in order to do a summary list of the best ones at the end of the year – a list which can be found here). Though they can often go unnoticed, books which discuss autism are always fascinating for people on the spectrum and this year was no exception; whether that be an awesome fictional option like: Ginny Moon, The Someday Birds and The State of Grace, or one of the incredible non-fiction books such as: Odd Girl Out and… Ok I’m sure there are way more great non-fiction autism books out there, but, to tell you the truth, non-fiction isn’t really my thing.
My personal favourite and the one I would highly recommended is Kids Like Us by Hilary Reyl: telling the story of boy with autism who moves to France and falls in love with a girl he believes to be straight from the pages of his favourite book (literally), Kids like Us is aimed at young adults and provides a relatable and engaging read for those on and off the spectrum. Obviously is worth noting that you don’t have to get someone with autism a book which features autism, however, Kids Like Us is brilliant with or without it’s relatable subject matter and I would recommend Reyl’s personal style of writing to anyone: even those who know nothing about A.S.D.
6. A Trampoline.
Although we did receive a mini trampoline for the house a few year ago, I must confess this idea wasn’t mine. Suggested by the National Autistic Society, a trampoline is a great present for people with autism, as the repetitive motion of rymthmically jumping in the same place is both stimulating and fun.
From personal experience, I also find jumping on a trampoline to be a great stress reliever and an easy way to escape my thoughts, and if that hasn’t sold you on the idea then maybe my next recommendation will.
7. A New Hobby.
Whether it’s astrology, painting or even the previously mentioned trampolining, everyone should find something to focus their time and hone their skills with. Why not encourage a hobby in someone with autism this year, by providing them with a craft or related item to get them started?
I plan to write an article on the benefits of obsessions and hobbies in the future, however, until then, just trust me when I say that they are highly important for people with autism. Hobbies provide: a coping technique, an educational tool and have the added advantage of providing ideas for future presents, as you can build on what they take up, with more advanced pieces of equipment year on year.
8. Board Games.
Board games are both stimulating and educating, for people with autism and, thanks to a renewed interest in them over the last few years, we are now beginning to see more options for these ideal autism gifts than ever before.
My top recommendation for people with autism who require additional support (but not solely), would be games like ‘Guess Who?’ (or it’s knock off counterpart ‘who’s your friend?’) as these games can help encourage eye to eye contact (even if they are only with 2 dimensional characters).
Alternatively, for people on the spectrum who require less support, and are after something a bit meatier, recent releases like the Dark Souls board game or Town of Salem have become favourites of mine, for their complex systems, which will have you well and truly hooked until you glance at the clock and think ‘how is it that time already!?’.
Just remember that, regardless of whether a person with autism needs support or not, a game of Monopoly will always end in tears… ‘always’!
Carry on the Conversation
Think you can top my reccomendations? Let me know your suggestions in the comments below
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Thank you for reading and I will see you next Saturday for more thoughts from across the spectrum.