If you are blessed with an Autistic child in your life, whether is it your son or daughter, grandchild, friend, step-child, godchild, student, classmate or sibling the holidays is a delicate time. Buying appropriated gifts can really help open your child up to having a very enjoyable Christmas and even help bring you two closer together.
It is important to remember that often the holidays can be a stressful time, but this is especially true for Autistic children with the constant changes and break from your usual schedule that the holiday season brings. With all it’s hustle and bustle it can be very hard for them to understand everything that is going on. Knowing this can help you understand the kinds of appropriate behavior and gifts that you can offer.
If we review what general knowledge we have regarding Autistic children and what we know about them we can relate this to shopping to rule out things that will not be appropriate and include things that can help them flourish.
I believe that every autistic child has what I like to call as, windows. These are spaces in which you can really connect with them, engaging one another on the same level and having their their attention focused on nothing but you two and what you are doing. This can be hard for Autistic children as we know they are busy in a world of their own most of the time. However, you can actually use your holiday shopping as an advantage to bring you closer by encouraging these windows by purchasing engaging interactive toys that are appealing and also stimulate their sensory systems without overwhelming them.
To create these windows with toys I suggest to purchase gifts that only require a couple of players, 1 or 2 player game are the best but 3 or 4 players can work too, however the less distractions and less people there are involved, the better chance you have of your child staying focused, enjoying the game, and connecting and bonding with you.
We also know that most Autistic children love the feeling or water or flour or anything fuzzy on their hands. Any gifts involving texture, sight and sound can help keep them interested. Gifts that can stimulate this sensory joy for them make very good gifts. Fuzzy gloves, beanbag chairs, bath toys like a rubber duck, the classic watersnake tube and very soft teddy bears can be great solo gifts for them to touch and play with on their own while you are busy.
With these gifts it will be harder for them to engage with you and pay attention as they will be preoccupied, so purchase these great gifts to keep them happy on their own.
Apply this knowledge to gifts we can buy that create interaction between your child while stimulating their sensory perception. This includes gifts like books you can read to them with pop-outs on each page, noises or things they can lift up to see the answer, soft patches or anything they can really touch on a book that is included in the storyline.
Be patient as this will not always create the window you are looking for. You have to find the games and toys that they are keen for, this is different for every child. Take the time trying new games and go through their presents with them one at a time.
Don’t open all of your presents under the tree in a mad rush, this can overwhelm your child and can be very confusing. Take the holidays slow and explain to them what you are doing in every step to help keep them engaged and informed to make it a more enjoyable experience for them. You may even span opening their presents over the entire holiday season.
Interactive flash cards, memory games or any kind of card games can be a great gift to bond with your child while playing with them. Any games like this that can stimulate their mind and include bonding time together are great ideas for Christmas gifts, Hanukkah gifts, birthday presents or even everyday rewards for good behavior.
Reading and talking, sound based games are another great idea. Computer or video game based interactive games can be a lot of fun while teaching and encouraging your child to learn. Play these games as one player together with them and be of assistance when needed but make sure they are doing the hard parts. Just stick close to keep them on track and interested.
Buy games that include sounds being spelled out and then involve your child speaking or saying it back. Or for something different try fun farm games where you fill in the sound or name of the animal.
Gifts that are not appropriate include board games with a billion pieces or anything they may harm themselves on. These inappropriate gifts include anything they are tempting to swallow or they could harm another child or yourself with. I don’t think I have to tell you not to give them a hunter’s knife or a chainsaw for Christmas!
Give your Autistic child gifts that will challenge them, do not buy them all very easy, simple mindless games and toys. Some of the most brilliant children in history are Autistic, so your child may really be a misunderstood genius. Encourage and flourish the gift they have and learn new ways to teach them by having them teach you how they can learn. You will never know what they may do in the future so encourage them now to help assist them shine tomorrow.
If you want to get fancy and buy expensive larger gifts for a special occasion a few fun things that you can buy and do together that most Autistic children love are going in hot tubs, jumping on trampolines (the mini inside trampolines are a great gift), playing in a sandbox or a safe swing set. Of course these are not always your everyday gift, but can help your child enjoy life and bring up many opportunities to engage in these activities together that can help you connect while they grow. These gifts should usually be used under supervision at all times for example if in a hot tub or something along those lines where drowning could be an issue, safety first!
Another quick tip that involves safety and fun is to remember to buy them age appropriate gifts. This means age appropriate for where they are in their mind development and their body growth, which may not always be the same as other Autistic or non Autistic children.
Blocks and puzzles have been a big hit in past studies and with families with Autistic children and always another good choice for a holiday gift.
You can purchase toys that can function in all of these important and different areas including to enhance their language or communication skills, target the sensory aspect, create focus or attention, deal with thinking and reasoning, involve their imaginative thinking, get them planning and sequencing or even engage their balance and coordination skills with games.
A few gifts that demonstrate balance and coordination skills include the floor mat game Twister, a giant ball to sit and bounce on or a Wii Fit floor mat game and system.
With this guide I will leave you on your own to do your holiday shopping but before I go I’ll leave you with one last piece of advice that can literally do your shopping for you. KidScope Toys, an online store that can really help further this discussion and possibly answer some gift giving questions you have.
They are one of the best stores specially created to cater Autistic children and families and help you understand as well as your children understand life and learning.
KidScope Toys have gifts that range from a single dollar to around five hundred dollars with many reasonable prices, excellent gifts and holiday answers. Visit this special store for Autistic learning, gifts and therapeutic toys here at http://kidscopetoys.com/.
Enjoy shopping for your child this 2009 holiday season and every holiday in the following years to come and enjoy giving the gift of love and interaction by creating windows with fun and appropriate toys.