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Searching for the Perfect Gift

It’s tough enough to find holiday gifts for kids who are into everything, but for kids with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) who have a tendency to have more than narrow interests, holiday shopping can be as stressful as having grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins and neighbors all in your house at the same time. You search and search to find the coolest toys, most fashionable t-shirts and video games that you just “know” any kid would love, just to find it hidden under a mountain of wrapping paper in the corner of the living room well after everyone has exited. Yep, our kids aren’t generally hip to the latest and greatest, give a hoot about fashion or find enjoyment in a video game that requires two or more players. SO, if you want your child to actually “like” what you’ve found for them this holiday season, there are some things to consider while you’re doing the shopping; not afterwards as he looks at it, reminds you that it’s not what he asked for and leaves it where he found it. Accept a Request – If your child is verbal and tells you what he wants, no matter how many of the same thing he already has or how obsessive he tends to be about it, if you want to please your child, just get it. No, don’t go overboard and make it a holiday gift giving theme, but an item of high desire goes a really long way in bringing pleasure to the tough to please kid. And even though it might give “you” anxiety to purchase yet another one of whatever it is, he’ll love it. And isn’t that what it’s really all about? Target Special Interests – Kids with autism tend to have very specific interests or topics. Telling Grandma to purchase your child something because “you” think he should expand his repertoire isn’t going to create a warm and fuzzy feeling when the gift is opened and he says “But this isn’t what I wanted.” Save the desire that you have for him to expand his horizons for another time and give the gifts that will warm his little heart and make Grandma smile as she sees her grandson as happy as he can be when he opens her gift. Think Outside the Box (literally) – As said before, kids with ASD may not have an attraction to the most fashionable of gifts, but they might have a high interest in things that wouldn’t make an average kid take a second look. For kids who love to take things apart and put them back together again, a small tool set might be the answer. For kids who love things that are a certain color, go “blue” crazy. For kids who live and die by the Ipad, maybe it’s a new Ipad cover and a few new apps. And of course, what kid wouldn’t just LOVE a few big empty boxes to climb around in? It doesn’t really have to be complicated; just think about what your child spends their day loving and go with it. Books, CDs, DVDs, etc are great, but make sure it’s specific to your child’s area of interest. Giving them a book on space travel when they have absolutely no interest in inner or outer space isn’t going to do much except see your money sit on the bookshelf of their bedroom. If you don’t find enough books on your child’s area of interest in the bookstore, check out Amazon for a much greater variety. Monetary Gifts (and other Collector Items) – Now I know what you’re going to say… Money??!! Lots of kids with ASD are “collectors” and coins can be one of those things. $10 worth of coins can go a long way, especially if your kid likes to examine and categorize them. Plus this is a really cool gift that even the pickiest of siblings will be jealous over. If your kid loves cars, give them a 6 pack of Hot Wheels; if they love Mighty Beans, a dollar store is the place to go; and of course many kids with ASD just can’ t have enough legos and since these can be over-the-top in price, E-bay just might be the answer to your prayers. Don’t Forget the Senses – Holiday gift giving doesn’t have to be about toys or clothes. For the sensory quirky kid, a basket full of sensory items could be the ticket to utter bliss. Weighted items, fidgets, vibrating gadgets, lotions, scented oils, “chewelry”, and a ball they can bounce on to their heart’s content, can bring holiday cheer to the whole family. Having a child with ASD in your home who’s truly content, even for short blasts of time, is a holiday gift that keeps on giving. Instead of trying to change who your kids are this holiday season by purchasing gifts that “broaden their horizons”, do yourself and your child a favor, and give them what they love. Chances are it’ll not only bring a smile to their face, but a savings to your wallet as well.

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