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What are Some of the Best Christmas Gifts for Your Autistic Children?

Chirstmas gift for an autistic child

We've compiled a list of gifts to delight the senses of children with autism.


Christmas is around the corner and many parents are wondering what would make their autistic child happy to unwrap from under the Christmas tree. Whether you are Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Taoist, Pagan or otherwise, the holidays coming up require some sort of special present for the children in your family, whether or not they have been diagnosed with autism.

Awesome new information? Many malls now have autism-friendly Santa visits for pictures, some of which are private, too!

Types of Autism

  • Classic Autism or Kanner's Syndrome: A lack of emotional contact, need for routine, speech impediments, high visuo-spatial skills, learning disabilities, etc. can define a child in this category, the name adopted from Dr. Leo Kanner of John Hopkins University in the 1940s.
  • Asperger's Syndrome: With a high level of misdiagnosis, 35 out of 10,000 people will have this form of the disorder, first discovered by Hans Asperger in Austria, that makes them absolutely genius in the one this they are obsessed with, with social deficiencies, absolute perfectionism and/or intolerance of change. Sensitivity to different stimuli, unnatural phobias and limited food preferences are also markers to look for.
  • Rhett's Syndrome: A later discovery by Australian Dr. Andreas Rhett, 1 in 10,000 girls will be diagnosed with this form of the disorder and are generally disabled/dependent on others for life.

Autistic children, including those with Asperger's Syndrome, love to play with toys that stimulate the senses and have them moving about. That means that the traditional doll or matchbox car just is not going to cut it. Some children with autism might also be savants, while others might have synaesthesia and see music or taste colors. They may be high-functioning or low on the spectrum. Each child reacts differently to the same object.

So what do you do?

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According to one study, autistic children asked about their favorite activities mentioned climbing stairs to throw a ball down, spinning the arms of windmills, and sifting through a bowl of rice.

National Autism Resources shares a few toys that might come in handy. My personal favorites?

  1. Archiquest Classical and European Architecture
  2. LED Jellyfish Mood Lamp
  3. Original Tangle with Texture
  4. Nature's Fire Soothing Volcano
  5. Mosaica
  6. Light-up Helicopter Candy Pop Fan

Go for something with lots of lights: Whether it's a starry night or a simple flashlight with added funky features, lights will make an autistic child happy.

Go for something that allows for creativity: Minecraft has been recommended my mothers everywhere. Video games are great for children with autism, so long as they do not interfere with their sleep. Leggo, K'Nex, and other such building tools are perfect, both for motor skills and inspiring creativity.

Go for something that stimulates movement: If you are getting a game system, a Wii is probably your best bet. Roller blades, interactive games that require stepping to a beat (dance mania style), jump ropes (they are repetitive as well as a workout and fun to play with) and a multitude of other games, both expensive and inexpensive are great.

Go for something that incorporates as many of the senses as possible: A toy car that has wailing sirens, flashing lights and moves around to a remote control? Something akin to Heaven there. If it is one of those which climbs stairs as well or goes down stairs with flair, your house will be filled with chaos but that child will be having fun. A LeapPad might also work in this case. Or an iPad. Or a dance mania style game with movement, music, visual stimulation, et al.