Buying a gift is difficult at the best of times, whether it’s for your parents, a sibling, best friend or your significant other, it’s a difficult choice. But buying a gift for someone with autism can prove to be even more of a struggle. It can be somewhat easier when they reach their teenage or adult years but buying for a child with ASD can be far more difficult. There are a few things to bear in mind when shopping and if you do then the whole situation will be much easier.
Interests & Preferences
This is a pretty simple thing to focus on when buying a gift full stop. But it’s even more important when buying for a child with ASD. There’s lots of research that shows incorporating preferences and likes into the learning and play environment will reduce behaviours and increase skills. Capitalise on an individual’s likes!
On the other hand, a child might be sensitive to loud noises so anything with a speaker (toy police car, fake guitar, etc) might not be the best. When reading tips from the experts at https://www.autismparentingmagazine.com/gifts-for-kids-with-autism/ it suggests checking out with the parents, family, or friends of the child you are buying for to see what their likes and dislikes are.
Children with autism progress at different rates throughout their life, this can mean a teenager still playing with toys from when he was a toddler or a primary school child wanting to explore the world of senior high school mathematics.
These situations are hard to read so it’s always best to have a discussion with the parents but try to make it as age-appropriate as possible. Unless you’re buying for a child genius, and then things might have to take a turn.
Think About Triggers
Every person with autism is different, so understanding their triggers can be helpful when buying a gift for them. Some will engage with behaviours damaging to themselves and their parents so being mindful of anything that might cause one of these to be triggered. A trait common to many is violent tendencies, so anything with violence as a theme would be insensitive as it exposes the child to further aggression and might affirm their behaviour.
However, gifts for someone with sensory-seeking behaviours might benefit from having a gift that directs their behaviour in a positive manner. Many find touch an interesting sense to explore so buying something that has many different surfaces and feelings will be a fantastic gift. Much the same with the other senses, some children like to explore taste, smells, sights, and sounds.
Social communication is something the majority of people with ASD suffer with and there’s only one way to make it better, engage and try. Purchasing something that can be done as a group will be a good stepping stone for the child to start engaging in these social practises. Cards games like Pokemon and Magic are brilliant areas to explore, but also play with others.
Expand Their Horizon
Children with autism often have limited interests and will concentrate solely on those for years, often becoming hugely knowledgeable about the area. Trying to expand their horizons in a subtle and clever way is a brilliant thing to do, showing that there is more to be interested in than a few subjects.
To ensure they will enjoy it from the start, try and make the gift related to a previous interest. For example, if a child loves horses you could try introducing them to the medieval world where knights rode horses. This way there is a link and a new interest to try and explore.
Does It Develop Their Skills?
Some parents might not want this kind of gift for their child as it could be something they’re doing with them, but others will happily accept gifts to develop the skills of their child. A good thing to think about when buying gifts is whether it is age-appropriate and if it will help the development of who you’re buying for.
Always focus on something a person can do instead of what they can’t do. Being positive about what a gift can bring is much better than being negative about what it won’t do. To discover what a child’s strengths are and where they may need help it’s good to ask the parents, but always try and be as sensitive as possible when asking these kinds of questions. Ask about the positives and work out from there what gift might be useful.
Gift giving is a tough thing to master, but armed with the right information and a little bit of common sense you should be able to pick out something amazing. Consider all the points raised above and always think in a positive manner. You’ll have an amazing gift in no time.