The Best Holiday Gifts for Autistic Children

Holiday Gift Guide

I recently collaborated with some wonderful SLPs, OTs, my son, and parents on instagram to bring you our recommendations for the best holiday gifts for Autistic children (or ANY children). Some of our collaboration included children and adults who are actually Autistic, in order to get their unique perspective.

Our household is a neurodiverse, fun, unique, melting pot! We’ve got a little bit of everything and a whole lot of love. I kid you not- this is the photo we selected for our holiday card this year:

At our house, we often “think outside the box” when it comes to holiday shopping. Some of our children enjoy traditional, store-bought toys and some don’t. We like to look at each child’s interests and either purchase or create something that they might truly enjoy. Some kids are hard to shop for. Each year, I tend to google “best toys for Autistic children” in an effort to find something, anything to be inclusive for all of our kids. So, I’m thrilled to help put all of this into one spot!

Holiday Gift Guide from an Autistic Perspective

I was absolutely thrilled that Rachel Dorsey, Autistic SLP offered her time and energy to put together this instagram post. She helped me to think outside the box about ways to approach shopping (or creating) in order to give Autistic kids and adults what they really might enjoy.

Rachel had some great suggestions for looking at what the child does to determine what they like. This was helpful for me (and honestly gratifying) as a parent, as it made me feel like we were on the right track in our home!


If the child likes chewing playdough…..try taffy.

If the child likes sand….try pop rocks, crushed rock candy.

If the child likes inedibles (eek!)….try costume jewelry secured in cheesecloth.

*Always Supervise Mouthing/Chewing

There are prefabricated “chewy devices” and sometimes these are very successful. However, it’s important to consider the type of things the child typically chews. A rubber chewy may not be a satisfying replacement for a child’s shirt, but a washcloth might work .

Lights On/Off:

Small Flashlight (the one pictured below was created by my husband: it was embedded into a “busy board”…the flashlight is activated by the light switch)

Light up Toy with Single Push Switch

Hanging Holiday Lights

Fluid Simulator App

Fluid Light Projector

Opening/Closing Drawers and Doors:

A solid box/container with a secured door/opener

A child oven/stovetop

A child car with opening and closing doors (that can be pushed around)

A mailbox (my husband made the one pictured below: he purchased a life-sized mailbox but made a tiny post)

A busy board with doors/compartment (this was also crafted by my husband-can you tell what one of my husband’s special interests is? He and our son may open a specialized “toy store” one day 🙂 )

Holiday Gift Guide for Filling and Dumping!

This collaboration was with Suzanne from Playing Speech.

Toys for filling and dumping:

Piggy Bank

Fish Bowl

Dump Truck

Shape Sorter

Sand Box Toys

Cookie Jar

Collaboration with Lucas, age 8:

I’m sorry to all of my other collaborators, but this one was absolutely the most fun! Lucas seemed to have SUCH a good time with this. He wanted to make videos and photos for every single favorite toy and we could have listed 1,000 things. We narrowed this post down to “spinning”, but we are going to add a one more favorite thing that lights up and makes noise…because it is just so much FUN! The last toy on the list was not designed to spin, but by golly…Lucas can make it spin!

“I love to spin!” by Lucas:

Spinnyo Roller Coaster

Tether Ball

Giant Fidget Spinners

Spin a Letter

Hover Soccer Ball


Hess Trucks (Not pictured): these are traditionally released each holiday season. They are not designed to spin…but some kiddos have a gift for spinning anything. These toys light up, make noise, and are very durable. They release a different version each year. You can find some of the older ones on ebay and amazon.

Spin Again Stacking Toy (Featured Below)

Holiday Gift Guide for Outside Fun!

Our next collaborator was Kristin- OT with Coastal Connections OT. This post offered ideas for getting great sensory input for a variety of functions…while having fun outside!

Outdoor Toys:

EZ Roller: great for motor planning & vestibular input

Swings: Suacer and Pocket (Vestibular and Proprioceptive Input)

Go Find It: Scavenger Hunt for Sensory Exploration & Ocular Motor Skills

Pogo Jumper: Proprioceptive Input & Postural Control

Garden Tools: Heavy Work & Upper Body Strengthening

Bug Catcher: Fine Motor, Visual Motor, & Ocular Motor

Holiday Gift Guide for Hyperlexia and Kids who LOVE Letters!

One of my favorite things about my Autistic child is his mind-boggling ability to read! This is an amazing strength for many kids…and also a favorite thing (or a “restricted interest” as the mean ‘ol medical jargon says….I prefer favorite thing). I collaborated with Andi of Mrs Speechie P to come up with toys for our letter-lovers out there!

Favorite Toys for Letters:

Acorns by Learning Resources

Fridge Phonics by LeapFrog

Popsicle Matching by Learning Resources

Letter Puzzle

Make a Word Puzzles by Melissa and Doug

Alphabet Magnets

Holiday Gift Guide for Sensory Fun

This was a fun collaboration with another Mom and SLP, Tanya with On A Mission SLP. She helped me come up with some great ideas for sensory seekers. It’s important to remember that children who demonstrate sensory seeking behaviors (rocking, jumping, crashing, lining up, looking at things sideways, etc) need this sensory input. So let’s give it to them! This can be referred to as stimming. We should not stop stimming, we should help provide needed sensory input. This helps our sensory-seekers to be integrated, calm, and most importantly: happy!

Sensory Toy Ideas (*with supervision):

Trampoline: If your child likes stomping, crashing, jumping…get this!

Rocking Horse: if your child likes rocking…get this!

Water Beads: if your child likes watching things fall through their hands or scattering…get this!

Wind Up Toys: If your child likes twisting things, cause and effect…try this!

Whack a Mole: Full transparency…this toy is LOUD…but it is a lot of fun. ALL of my kids drive me nuts with this toy love this one.

Pop Up Toys: if your kiddo likes cause and effect…go for it! (Me- I’m like Buddy the Elf and jump when I open a can of biscuits…so beware)

Not Pictured, but also great ideas!

Basketball Hoop: If your child likes throwing…get them an over the door goal!

Kinetic Sand: If your child likes playing with dirt, letting things sift, scattering…try this!

Holiday Gifts for Core Language

Core Language vocabulary consists of the words we used most often. This collaboration with Abby from The Type B SLP provide both ideas for toys and how to incorporate language opportunities while playing!

Toy Ideas for Core Language:

Critter Clinic

Toy Garage with Keys

Door Latch Puzzles

Spin Again Stacking Toy

Animal Bubble Blower

Pound a Ball

Marble Run

Holiday Gift Ideas for Kids who Love to Throw

Do you have a thrower at your house or in your classroom? I sure do! I strongly believe that my kiddo throws things because he *needs to*. It provides him with sensory input and it makes him happy! For years, I got notes from his school trying to stop this “behavioral problem”. I tried to reframe this thinking, asking that they put up a basketball net in his classroom. I was met with resistance, as this was seen as “behavior” and not as a sensory need. Three years later….there is a basketball net in his classroom and he has his needs met safely using this.

Tricia with Sunflower SLP is also a Speech-Language Pathologist and mom to a kiddo who loves to throw. She helped me collaborate to come up with a list of toys that help provide this fun sensation and need for our favorite little throwers.

Toys for Kids Who Love to Throw:

Basketball Net

Velcro Dart Board

Inflatable Ball Pit

Toss Across

Foam Gliders

Bean Bag Toss

We tried to select toys that would work inside without causing a lot of damage. I’d also add that we’ve had a lot of success with protecting our televisions and devices with strong cases and cut fiberglass with binder clips (for televisions).

You can find many of these items on amazon, but some may be less expensive at Target or other retailers.

Happy holidays from my family to yours!


Leave a Reply

My name is Elizabeth Hepler and I’ve been a practicing Speech-Language Pathologist since 2005.  I am the mother of four great kids. Our household is neurodiverse: ADHD, Autism, Gifted, and more!

Join the Ausome Speech Club

Sign up for the latest freebies, tips & tricks, and content info!