It's that time of year again, when you have to figure out what the heck to buy for the autistic child on your holiday shopping list. Depending where they are on the spectrum, kids with autism may be after the goodies on the hot holiday toy list, but then again, they may not be!
So what are your can't-fail tips for buying them something that will be a hit? The Stir asked moms of some kids on the spectrum for a little help to make your shopping easier this year.
Carol Greenburg knows the holiday shopping struggle all too well. Greenburg is editor of The Thinking Person's Guide to Autism and mom of a 10-year-old with autism. She's also East Coast regional director of the Autism Women's Network, and she is often asked what the perfect gift for an autistic child might be.
"I don't know what the perfect gift for any autistic child is," she says with a laugh. "What's the perfect gift for any neuro-typical child?"
Like shopping for any other kid, you want to get an autistic child something they will enjoy, Greenburg says, not some one-size-fits-all present. The challenge is in balancing the need to provide them with gifts that help them build their skills with gifts that they will really like.
"You need to think about what you want to work on, but also what will be the most fun, the most enticing," she says.
When in doubt, the special needs advocate suggests, play to their interests. "Autistic kids, and autistic people in general, tend to have special interests -- what some people call obsessions. The way to an autistic child's heart, the way to connect with an autistic child is to follow their interests! Don't be afraid that you're giving in to some obsession!"
Remember to consider the child first, Greenburg adds, not what age recommendation is on the toy box, but what the child is actually interested in and developmentally able to do at this moment in time.
Still looking for some great ideas? Greenburg and several other moms of kids on the spectrum gave a few ideas of what has worked with their kids!
Which one of these do you see working for your kids? Any other great ideas?
Shannon Rosa, who blogs about her family at Squidalicious, tries to ensure that gifts for son Leo, who is 12 and autistic, are about him and what he actually enjoys rather than what other people think he or a child his age should enjoy.
"He adores fidget or stim items, like his current beloved Guyot silcone Squishy Bowl and Cup Set," Rosa explains. "The cup or bowl let him keep his hands busy -- he can twist and turn and stretch and bend them, and carry them everywhere. Plus, the soft silicone is so touchable, everyone who handles them wants a set for themselves!"