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7 Gifts Under $50 for Children with Autism

Winter is coming and presents are not far behind.  As tough as it is to find a present for your sister who already has everything or your husband who wants nothing; finding one for your child, niece or nephew who is on the autism spectrum is no doubt even harder.  They will be in no hurry to protect your feelings, and be prepared to get the most honest reaction possible.  That being said, there are plenty of affordable options available that could tickle your fancy this holiday season.

 1. Spin Toys

Toys like the Teeter Popper or Bilibo Spin Toy are very similar to therapy tools that aid in developing balance through proprioceptive input.  You can sit, wobble, wiggle, rock, spin or even stand, which activates the proprioceptive sense that is required for sensing the relative position and strength of various parts of the body being used.  Great overall toy for improving a child's sense of movement and understanding their own body.

Spin Toy for Children with Autism 

Price Range: $25-40


Teeter Popper
Bilbo Spin Toy

 2. Pattern Blocks

People on the spectrum often have a preference for patterns and structure, which can make Pattern Blocks an excellent present choice.  The ability to stack things by color and size can potentially entertain your child for hours on end or yourself for that matter.  You can be as imaginative as you want with these.  There are endless patterns to organize and stimulate creativity. You  may be surprised at the natural talent that you child has for rearranging these blocks.

 Pattern Blocks for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Price Range: $10-40


Pattern Blocks

3. Lego

Lego becomes a more fitting choice as your child grows older because they can develop their interests in a variety of ways.  Lego sets have all kinds of themes, especially some of the popular ones like trains or airplanes.  Whatever your child’s interest may be, chances are a Lego set exists just for them.  Lego has even been used as a source of therapy for improving social skills.  It can definitely be used as a tool to encourage teamwork over time.  Buying a whole Lego set can be expensive, so start with individual trains or smaller sets that won't set you back more than $50.

Train Lego Set for Children with Autism

Price Range: $5-50


Lego set

4. Autism Apps

Most autism apps range from being free to $5 dollars, and are both fun and educational.  For example, Toca Boca is an app that allows the player to act out certain roles like a doctor who patches people up, or a hairstylist who cuts hair.  It often re-enacts real life situations, and thus encourages role play and basic life skills.  Another one called ABA Flash Cards & Games has emotion flashcards that teach players to recognize emotion on people's faces.  Even an app like Fruit Ninja where you continuously swipe to chop fruit on the screen in a timed fashion is an effective and fun way to develop fine motor skills and coordination.

Emotion App Flashcard for Children with Autism

Price Range: $0-5


Toca Boca
ABA Flashcards
Fruit Ninja

5. Vibrating Massage Pillow or Snake

Proprioceptive input can significantly calm people with sensory disorders, and vibration does a great job of providing sensory feedback to the brain.  It ranges from a light tickle to a deep pressure sensation.  The pillow can be sat on to help encourage focus at places like the dinner table or while doing homework.

Autistic Child sitting on a Vibrating Massage Pillow

Vibrating Snake toy for people with Autism Spectrum Disorder

 Price Range: $25-35


Vibrating Massage Pillow 
Vibrating Snake Toy

6. Noise Putty

Noise Putty, also called Flarp, helps for both tactile input and auditory input. It comes in bright odorless colors and is quite affordable.  This is one of those toys where you may be surprised at how much fun you are having especially considering how simple it is.  Disclaimer: fart sounds are funny to all ages.

 Noise Puddy toy for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Price Range: $1-6


Noise Putty

7. Kinetic Sand

Kinetic Sand is an fun, safe sensory tool for children to play with.  It has the texture of sand but never dries out. This makes it easy to mold and create different objects, while not being a big mess to cleanup.  Similar to Sensory Bins, it helps with fine motor skills, sensory awareness and tactile input.

 Kinetic Sand for Children with Autism

Price Range: $15-50


Kinetic Sand

 Game of Thrones Christmas is Coming

If you liked this article, check out these:

         Autism-Friendly Holiday Tips                         What is Tactile Dysfunction?                         Autism and Bullying: What Can We Do?
Autism-Friendly Holiday Tips    What is Tactile Dysfunction?     Autism and Bullying: What Can We Do?

Written by Ryan Leung — December 07, 2015

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