Obviously, we talk often about autism being a spectrum with many large differences between people who are autistic. My older brother with autism is extremely easy to buy for. He can tell you specifically what he wants and even tries to pick who he wants to gift it to him at times. His method is far from what you would consider a social norm, especially for a man in his late 30s, but none-the-less, a pretty easy task for the person wanting to get him a gift.
Then we move to a different end of the spectrum with our son Damion. A kid overall that has never showed much interest in getting gifts. Many years it even takes us a few days to get through him opening his Christmas gifts because he will only do so one at a time without pushback. He does have things that he likes, but his interests seem fairly narrow and ideas from us run out quickly. Moving into the Christmas season is stressful as we want him to be happy with his gifts and feel just as much excitement as our other two but feel overwhelmed as the ideas run thin. Not to mention, we are asked by everyone else who wants to give him a gift what to get him too, making our list of options even shorter. So, if you have a child on the spectrum that is hard to buy for, here are some go to ideas that have helped us get the job done:
- Autism Shops
With internet shopping, you can search for just about anything. A quick google search will take you to plenty of different sites that sell gifts targeted at kids with autism. I can’t say that Damion ever gets super excited about these types of gifts, but we have had many that have come in very handy, especially for those sensory challenges we face or when we need things that help him with OT work. Even if they are not huge hits, maybe it will still be money well spent if they can be put to good use. One of my favorites that we have gotten some great items from in the past is Sensory Scout!
During the cold months, after Christmas, is when we generally take our annual family vacation. Meaning the destination is generally already booked (or at least chosen) before the Christmas holiday hits. This is great because we can be strategic with our gift giving in a way that gets items specific to the trip that we may need, and it also helps to start getting our kids excited for the upcoming destination. It is really fun when you are planning to go somewhere that has characters of some sort that you can work into the gifting themes. Our last family vacation was a resort that had Sesame Street characters and an option to do a tuck in with one, so an easy go to gift was some cookie monster PJs.
3. Experience Gifts
From the mom of a house that feels like it could double as a toy store, I love experience gifts! I can’t say that Damion always has a full understanding yet of what is being given when he gets a gift card or a voucher to go have an experience, and sometimes we have to be careful about what we say as he may construe it as “we are going that day”, but overall, this is a perfect gift for kiddos like our Damion. Instead of a lot of extra toys that he may not care about or will find another dusty spot in the corner, he loves going places. Bowling passes, tickets to an amusement park, something new we haven’t tried, you name it, I’m sure it will be a hit! You may not get to see the excited face right then and there during the gift opening, but I promise you will get to see or hear about all his joy when he goes on the gifted adventure.
If you are a parent to a kiddo like Damion who has little interest in the gift getting part of the upcoming holiday, hopefully this gives you some ideas to work off of. These gift ideas may not always give you that super excited kid like we all hope for as they unwrap their gifts, but all the suggestions are purposeful so at least you won’t find yourself with a bunch of items that will get no use!
One last little pro tip for the mom that dreams of seeing that excited face from her child on Christmas morning: If you do have a “big gift” item that you know your kid will love, don’t let yourself feel bad for claiming that gift to come from you. Now when I say “big gift” I am not really referring to size or cost per say. What I mean by “big gift” is something that I know my child will be excited about. Some years for Damion it is a pricier or larger item, some years it is something as small as a book. Getting to see the excitement in my kids’ eyes when they open their “big gift” is one of my favorite parts of the holiday. I am happy to share some great ideas for others looking to give some good gifts to my kiddo, but just know that if I have a single “big gift” idea for my hard to buy for guy, then I’m keeping that one idea to myself 😉. Happy Holiday Shopping All!