What Gifts to Get For An Autistic Child.

Joshua gets a little overwhelmed at Christmas

I must admit that when it comes to deciding what gifts to get Joshua for Christmas, I am a little confused.  With his SIB-R evaluation indicating he’s at about a 2 and a half year old level, which is certainly accurate in many ways, I’m taken aback as to what to focus on for his gifts.

I was at Costco recently with both boys, and we took time to look at the boy toys.  Joshua is a conundrum as to what to buy him as he, at 6 years of age, is still attracted to toys geared for the 2-5 year old, while he also has some interests for toys his 8 year old  brother plays with, especially if he can spin something or do some repetitive movement.

Joshua loves toys that spin

Joshua plays with most toys in a repetitive way, spinning any object that has a spinning feature or lining up toys such as trains or legos to re-enact Josh and the Big Wall, for example.  Most of the toys Joshua has an interest in he does make believe play with, mimicking a scene from a show he’s seen, or causing the toy to have some tragic fall of some sort, engaging with a sibling or grown up while using the same dialog, “Oh, no!  Ow!  I’m hurt!”

The challenge I have, as a mother who used to work in the Children’s Mental Health field, is in finding toys or gifts for him that will also serve some therapeutic value  as he recovers.  I also struggle as to trying to determine if I should challenge him in his growth, or allow for him to play with toys that are geared toward toddlers and pre-schoolers.  Granted, he’s at that level developmentally, not to mention in regards to his dexterity, so in that vein, these type of toys would be a good choice.  I simply have a hard time going back and getting these type of toys as I had thought we were beyond that age level…but apparently not.

This is where talking with the professionals we are involved with to get their feedback really helps.  Joshua does have his developmental delays and we do want him to practice  skills that are taking longer for him to master.  The primary challenge is finding toys that will meet these needs, while also durable, engaging and fun, yet not costing a bundle.  Yes, it can be easy when it comes down to it, but to help Joshua with his development, this is what I go through every time Christmas or birthday comes around.  I think my biggest challenge is for me to go at his pace because I want so much for him to be farther along than he is.  Perhaps I need to work a bit more on acceptance and simply being patient.

I brought this issue up to Linsey, Joshua’s physical therapist, and she said just the right thing to put my mind at ease that I simply have to share as it illuminated what I have been struggling with:

Most parents of developmentally disabled children want to rush their child along as they are gaining  mastery of different skills and behaviors and get on to the next milestone.  What we tend to forget is the importance of simply letting the child enjoy what they have accomplished with all their hard work!  Essentially, it is not only okay, but it is normal and vital for parents to let their children play and have fun with these newly developed skills!

We just don’t notice this as much with neurotypical kids. They are doing this all the time!   Our special needs kids are simply going at a different pace.  This discussion was so eye opening for me and gave me a sense of relief.

A birthday gift that has a lot of therapeutic value: Doorway trapeze bar!

There are, of course, a huge variety of toys available in any store that can be used in some therapeutic way for an autistic child such as Joshua.  It is such a treat to learn from the therapists, different ways in which to play that not only are engaging and fun, but satisfying several needs at once.  The advantage of having therapists and special educational services for one’s child, certainly can extend to the home.  If you think about it, it’s a fact that is true for any child.  All kids like to receive fun gifts and items they are interested in.  They also like to play with the significant adults in their lives.  What is important is encouraging an inquisitive mind, mastery of skills, creativity, engagement with others (ie. growth in social skills) and simply having fun.  That certainly makes it much easier when shopping especially when considering that the whether or not a gift needs batteries of some sort, they are the most complete gift when a devoted loved one is included, as simply spending time with one’s child is the best part of any gift!


This entry was posted on Saturday, December 8th, 2012 at 3:43 pm and is filed under Autism Treatment, General Autism Info. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


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