Kathy Knoll, of FAQAutism.com, sends along these last minute gift ideas for kiddos on the autism spectrum. Her ideas come from personal experience; feel free to share your own!
On a personal note, I can vouch for a few of these items. The shake flashlight was a great hit, especially since Tommy tends to forget little things like turning OFF the flashlight before going to sleep. Ends the problem of replacing batteries, and provide good motivation for skills like shaking and pushing a switch (both of which were tough before the flashlight came along). Magazines have also been a good choice for us: Tom loves any with great pictures of animals - a favorite interest. Last but not least, we too have had good luck with nesting boxes... and for folks interested in therapeutic play: nesting boxes also make terrific train sheds!
- MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION. This youngster was somewhat amazed that a magazine with his name on it showed up every month in the mailbox. Because he was likely to tear up the magazine, his sister put the pages in plastic page protectors in a loose leaf notebook. This youngster loved Car and Driver Magazine and Zoo Books. He is now a young adult and he still gets magazine subscriptions every year for Christmas.
- PERSONALIZED TRIP. Even if our youngsters don't appear to notice other people, the most valuable gift we can give them is time. So grandparents or siblings can give a youngster a coupon for an afternoon at the zoo or a fishing expedition or a tour of the local fire station. The box on Christmas morning could contain a brochure from the zoo and plastic zoo animals or it could contain a fishing lure or a fire hat.
- THERAPY TOYS. Check with your youngster's music therapist about appropriate musical gifts or as his physical therapist or occupational therapist about textured balls, sturdy toys that light up, or other sensory toys that are safe and fun.
- PERSONAL RECLINER. One teenager always liked sitting in my husband's rocking recliner when he came to my home for music therapy. So his parents moved some stuff out of his room at home and purchased him his own recliner. Over the years, he has worn out that recliner and wants another one this Christmas. Another youngster enjoyed getting her own desk so she could organize all her books and folders and toys in all the drawers.
- NESTING OBJECTS. Nearly every person I've known with autism loves the nesting dolls that I have in my music room.
- VELCRO. Nearly all my friends with autism love Velcro. Scout around for anything that has Velcro – books, toys, small camping accessory bags.
- SHAKE FLASHLIGHT. The new flashlights that shake for power rather than using batteries are popular with my friends with autism.
Any more last minute ideas? Let us know!