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Holiday Gift Ideas for Children with Autism

Parents and caregivers are often centered on ensuring that they gift they give is both entertaining and educational for the child who receives it.

To aid in your search for the perfect gift, Trumpet Behavioral Health Ohio  has assembled the following list of gift ideas that provide entertainment while strengthening a child’s cognitive, verbal and social skills. Each has a description and pricing for comparison.

Guess Who? Board Game (around $20).

Children with autism spectrum disorders have problems in social interactions including facial recognition. More specifically, research indicates additional deficits in face memory. In the game of Guess Who, the players use physical traits to deduce the other player’s mystery person.  Thus, the child is examining different faces and eliminating the faces that do not pertain to the trait. An extension of this game is to take out the faces and put in actual pictures of important people in the child’s life.

Social Inferences (around $35).

It is commonly reported that children with Autism Spectrum Disorder demonstrated pragmatic deficits.  Importantly, children struggle making inferences in social scenarios and in literacy. Inferencing requires the child to analyze, internalize and interpret common social cues. Super Duper Publications has created a product called “Social Inferences” fun deck. The deck of pictures includes story cards with an inference question for each story. The child can choose the best option from 3 given choices. The inference questions ask the student to infer from character behavior, feelings and identifying inappropriate behavior.

Diggin’ Active JumpSmart Trampoline (around $99)

Trampolines can be used as both reinforcers and a fun means of exercise for children who may not readily engage in physical activity.  This one has the added bonus of playing music and even includes five learning games that are a great way to work on generalizing skills like counting and imitation while being active and having fun!

Melissa and Doug Basic Skills Board (around $17.61)

This fun bear puzzle is a great way for kids to practice with zippers, buttons, snaps, laces, etc.  Practicing on a board is easier for beginners than trying to maneuver their own clothes, and the bright colors and cute bear make learning fun!

Multipurpose Visual Schedule (around $30)

Schedules can be helpful for planning and organization purposes. Providing a schedule for individual students or a classroom schedule may be helpful for many students with an autism spectrum disorder. A visual schedule is a reminder/cue of what to do and what is coming. The Multipurpose Schedule board can be used in a variety of settings (home, classroom, community, etc.) and can be tailored to meet the needs of the student.

Mastering Mathematics Workbook with Laminated Cards (around $15)

This may be useful for those students who are starting on basic math skills such as addition and subtraction. It would provide a unique activity rather than the typical worksheets. Because the cards are laminated, its durable and can be re-used.

Positive Pragmatics Game Boards (around $40)

This is a game board which focuses on social communication skills such as talking on topic, feelings and telephone etiquette. For some students who need support with social skills, this may be a fun way to provide extra practice.

Set of Blocks (around $25.00):

Blocks are a fun play item that kids with autism can learn play skills individually and social skills, like sharing, when playing with a sibling or in a small group of peers.  Blocks with pictures on the sides can also be a great toy to generalize skills taught through intensive teaching in the natural environment.  Children with autism can tact, receptively identify, work on intraverbal and feature, function, class utilizing the pictures on the blocks, and these are just a few of the skills they can work on generalizing while playing with blocks.  Here are a few different sets (depending on the age of your child):


Marble Maze (around $25)

Marble Maze is a toy where you can take various pieces and build a tower for balls to go down. For a child who is working on language development, it may be possible for the child to request each piece of the tower and then the reinforcement may be the marble going down the tower. A marble maze may be interactive so that kids can take turns adding pieces to the tower.

Balancing Baker (around $22)

This activity requires kids to stack and therefore balance cakes in each of the baker’s hands. This encourages hand-eye coordination and also introduces concepts such as weight and balance. Kids may enjoy seeing how many cakes they can stack before the baker drops everything.

String a Farm (around $16)

String a Farm consists of beads in the shape of farm animals and items on a farm such as a tractor. Some young students may benefit from opportunity to string beads which are larger and easier to manipulate. Using shapes such as farm animals may give adults the opportunity to work on labeling the animals or their sounds.

Bathtub Crayons (around $5-8)

Bathtub crayons can be used as a unique opportunity to work on fine motor skills. Some students may not like to write but if you present in while they are in the bathtub, the ‘task’ of writing may seem more like a game than a task.

Zingo Game (around $20)

Zingo is a fun game which encourages the ability to match pictures and take turns. Each player takes a game board. There is a container with plastic pieces which have pictures which match pictures on the game board. Each player takes a turn choosing 2 plastic pieces and determining if the chosen pieces match a picture on their game board. When they find all of the pieces, “zingo,” they win the game. http://www.toysrus.com/product/index.jsp?productId=2266811&cp=2255956.2273442.2255959.2257808.2257814&parentPage=family

Model Me Kids DVDs (around $30 each)

Some students with an autism spectrum disorder struggle with social skills.  Model Me Kids provides DVDs with short videos of specific skill areas. Video modeling can be effective strategy for some students with an autism spectrum disorder.

Fanta Color Junior (around $30)

This is an activity which the students puts pegs onto a clear pegboard and create a picture which is under the clear peg board. Some students with special needs could benefit from additional practice with fine motor skills. Having the picture under the pegs may be more enticing than just asking a child to put pegs on a board.