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Gifts for Autistic Children: Perfect Picks for Development

Jun 20, 2024

4 min read

Finding the right gift for autistic children can be a game-changer. Our newest guide explores toys that cater to sensory preferences and developmental stages, ensuring that every gift is more than just a toy—it’s a tool for growth. This breakthrough approach promises to make gift-giving this summer both meaningful and enjoyable for families.

What To Look For in Toys for Autistic Kids:

It’s important to be mindful of sensory overload when choosing toys for children with autism. However, it’s also worth noting that these kids are often visual learners and find comfort in certain sensory experiences. In fact, many sensory toys can be used to enhance their social and cognitive development, including skills like planning, organizing, and sharing.

Gifts for Autistic Kids this image shows children playing with toys while laying down
Read more: Tech Gifts for Kids

There are a couple of things to look for and be aware of when beginning your shopping spree. Remember:

  • Age-grading does not always apply
    • It’s important to remember that every child with autism is unique and develops at their own pace. Just because a toy is labeled “For children 8+” doesn’t necessarily mean it’s off-limits for a child who doesn’t meet that age requirement. Children with autism can have a wide range of intellectual abilities, some far beyond their peers and some behind. While safety is always a priority, it’s perfectly fine to shop for toys that are appropriate for the child’s developmental stage.
  • Avoid over-stimulating, flashy toys
    • Many kids with autism can also experience sensory overload pretty easily. If you are not sure if this is applicable, try and avoid toys with lots of flashing lights and quickly-moving parts. 
  • Customize your gift!!
    • Some kids with autism crave or despite certain sensory inputs. Knowing whether the child you are celebrating also has sensory processing disorder (SPD) or not can really help you get the perfect gift (and avoid the wrong ones, too!). If they do, try and discover which types of sensory input are up their alley.

Goally | The Safest Tablet for Kids

A young child demonstrates brushing teeth on the best tablet for kids by Goally, highlighting a kid-friendly interface.

Five Types of Gifts for Autistic Kids:

So let’s get to it! Here are five very different types of gifts for autistic kiddos that engage the different senses:

  1. Visual gifts
    • Fidget spinners- the fast rotation of the spinner can help with focus.
    • Puzzles- kids on the autism spectrum often find a lot of satisfaction in seeing puzzle pieces fit together. This also helps them learn cognitive thinking skills.
  2. Texture-based gifts
    • Sensory mats or plush toys- the different textures of mats and plush toys can help kids begin to describe and understand how they feel about different textures.
    • Slime or Putty- these can help kids develop fine motor skills while also visually stimulating them by the various colors of the putty or slime. You can even make this with them!
  3. Auditory sensory gifts
    • Rain-makers- the sound of beads falling can be very calming to kids who enjoy listening to unique sounds. 
    • Audio books or headphones for music- these are great options for kids who are a bit older and enjoy learning! 
  4. Movement-oriented gifts
    • Spin discs- for children who like vestibular system sensory input (basically a sense connected to body movement), this is a great option. (For more on the vestibular system, check out this blog post!)
    • Balance pods- these can help kids develop a sense of balance… and they are just plain fun!
  5. Goally! (Best of all worlds)
    • A Goally provides the perfect combination of many of these sensory toys. It is a personal device that provides kids with a visual schedule. It also allows them to answer Quizlets, do puzzles, and win points for tasks. This is the perfect gift to help a kiddo with autism thrive (and their parents will absolutely adore you, too). Not to mention that kids love technology, so there really is no loss!
Read more: What Are the Best Autism Sensory Toys?

No matter which gift you land on, remember that the biggest gift is your presence and time… so go conquer this summer’s birthday parties and big events with confidence and joy!

Goally | Visual Scheduler for Autism

Does your child struggle with getting ready in the morning independently? Goally’s routine app on the best tablet for kids breaks down large tasks into small, achievable steps for autistic kids. Create custom routines with your own videos & pictures for every step.

The right toy can offer more than just amusement—it can stimulate development, encourage learning, and provide comfort. So, whether you opt for a sensory mat, an engaging puzzle, or an all-in-one tool like a Goally, you’re contributing positively to their summer experience. With the information from this blog, we hope you can face any upcoming birthday parties or summer celebrations with confidence, knowing you’re well-equipped to select a gift that’s both fun and beneficial for the autistic kids in your life. Remember, the joy is in the journey!

FAQs About Gifts for Autistic Kids

Why are sensory toys recommended for autistic kids?
Sensory toys are recommended for autistic children as they can stimulate their senses, help with motor skills development, and provide a soothing effect during periods of anxiety or stress.
What is the benefit of visual schedules for autistic children?
Visual schedules assist autistic children by providing a clear, predictable routine, helping reduce anxiety and improve their understanding of daily tasks.
How can emotional regulation apps assist autistic children?
Emotional regulation apps can teach autistic children how to identify, understand, and manage their emotions, aiding in their social interactions and personal growth.
Why are reward systems useful for children with autism?
Reward systems are useful because they positively reinforce desired behavior, helping autistic children understand societal expectations and improve their social skills.
What should be considered when selecting a gift for an autistic child?
When selecting a gift, consider the child's specific interests, sensory needs, skill development goals, and preferences to ensure the gift is both enjoyable and beneficial.

This post was originally published on 06/03/2021. It was updated on 06/20/2024.

Article by

Emily is a seasoned blog writer for Goally, leveraging her extensive background in child psychology and special education to provide valuable insights and resources for parents. Her commitment to understanding and addressing the unique needs of these children, combined with her expertise in educational strategies, makes her a credible and empathetic voice for families.