The Mighty's Holiday Guide of Sensory-Friendly Gifts for Kids or Teens With Autism

Shopping for someone on the autism spectrum can be a challenge. To make your holiday shopping a little less stressful, we’ve complied a list of gifts that anyone on the autism spectrum, from younger kids to adults, might love to receive. Of course, to truly know what someone could use this year — ask them! Surprises are fun, but don’t feel guilty if you’d rather ensure the person you love will enjoy what you buy them.

Photo of a sensory theraplay box

1. Sensory Theraplay Subscription

Feeling extra generous? Give a gift that keeps on giving all year long. Sensory Theraplay subscription boxes were designed by a pediatric occupational therapist, and feature sensory-friendly toys designed to help develop sensory motor skills. Boxes are meant for kids between the ages of 4 and 8, and feature toys meant for therapeutic play such as putty, textured tactile toys, fidgets, light up toys and craft activities.

Our pick: A Sensory Theraplay monthly subscription ($39.95/month or $113.85 for three months) Boxes ship throughout the U.S. and Canada. 


Photos of a nesel bag

2. A Nesel Pack

Some of the best holiday gifts are the more practical ones. The Nesel Pack is a sensory-friendly backpack which functions like a weighted vest. In addition to being autism-approved, the backpack has lots of handy features such as a clear ID card pocket, clips for sensory tools and multiple chest straps provide extra security and comfort. It’s a functional gift that’s sure to be appreciated.

Our pick: The Nesel Pack ($99.00). Nesel Packs ship throughout the U.S. and to limited countries internationally.

The Emotions Bundle, Children's Color & Shape Wallet Cards, Children's Public Transit Wallet Cards

3. SO Awesome Wallet Cards

Looking for a gift that’s sensory-friendly and educational? Try SO Awesome. Mom Marie-Claire Camp created SO Awesome, a line of chewable wallet-sized cards similar to flashcards, to help her sons with their sensory overload. Each card is made from is made from a non-toxic plastic manufactured in the U.S., making them safe for children of all ages. Plus, 10 percent of proceeds are donated to literacy-based nonprofit organizations.

Our picks: The Emotions Bundle ($25.00), Children’s Color & Shape Wallet Cards ($10.00), Children’s Public Transit Wallet Cards ($8.00) All items ship internationally.

Learning Resources Gears Building Set and Magna Tiles

4. A Gift From Spectrum Toy Store

Spectrum Toy Store is the first sensory-friendly toy store in Illinois, and one of only a handful in the U.S., designed for children with developmental disabilities. The store is owned and operated by Jamilah Rahim, a behavioral therapist, who makes sure every toy is appropriate for children on the spectrum. Spectrum Toy Store also offers Care Boxes, a monthly subscription box of sensory toys, products and educational activities. Plus, each subscription gives back to the autism community, with a portion of the proceeds providing scholarships for out-of-school programming.

Our picks: Care Box subscription ($25.95 per month), Learning Resources Gears Building Set ($28.00), Magna Tiles ($40.00). All items ship nationwide throughout the U.S. 

Images of Seenseez Pillows

5. A Senseez Pillow

A fun and functional gift, Senseez Pillows were created by Stephanie Mitelman, as a way for her son – who has sensory issues – to travel around with his favorite vibrating mat. Each pillow is designed to be lightweight, portable and visually appealing for children and teens. In addition to vibration-only pillows, Senseez Pillows has a line of “3-in-1 Adaptables,” pillows that include a weighted pad, hot and cold pack and a vibration device.

Our picks: Plushy Jelly ($29.99), Flannel ($39.99), Flowers ($59.99)  Pillows ship throughout the U.S. and Canada as well as internationally.

Starry Night Spinner Ring, Chewable Frosted Donut Pendant Necklace Weighted Bunny Lap Pad

6. Stimtastic Jewelry or Toys

Knowing that most products for people on the autism spectrum are geared towards children or their parents, Cynthia Kim, who was diagnosed with autism when she was 42, created Stimtastic – an affordable line of jewelry and toys for autistic adults and teens. Stimtastic offers stim toys, chewable jewelry and fidgets. And, to make your purchase more meaningful, Stimtastic donates 10 percent of all proceeds back to the greater autism community.

Our picks: Starry Night Spinner Ring ($9.50), Chewable Frosted Donut Pendant Necklace ($8.50), Weighted Bunny Lap Pad ($17.50).  All orders ship throughout the U.S. and to most countries internationally. 

Members of Aspergers Are Us dressed in costumes walking along a railroad track

7. A Copy of “Aspergers Are Us”

Spread some holiday cheer with a copy of “Aspergers Are Us,” a documentary about a comedy troupe comprised entirely of men on the autism spectrum. The film follows comedians and friends Jack Hanke, New Michael Ingemi, Ethan Finlan and Noah Britton as they prepare for their last comedy show.

Our pick: A digital download of “Aspergers Are Us” on iTunes or Amazon ($9.99).

Related: The 2014 Top 10 Best Gifts for Kids With Autism 

, , , Listicle

Related to Autism Spectrum Disorder

Woman writing in notebook with pencil

Why I'm a Perfectionist as Someone on the Autism Spectrum

When I was a kid, I would spend hours on my homework. I wanted everything to be right. I wanted it to be my best work. After all, people always told me to do my best. Basically, I wanted it to be perfect. But it wasn’t just about my homework. My parents would tell me [...]
image from feature film po

What I Took Away From the Film ‘Po’ as Someone on the Autism Spectrum

In recent years, more and more films have been released that focus on those on the autism spectrum and with other special needs. This rings true for the recently released movie “Po,” which looks at the story of a widowed engineer struggling to raise his 10-year-old son who is on the autism spectrum. Last year, I did a [...]
Person writing a letter to Santa on a wood table with wrapped presents on it

My Christmas List to Santa as an Autistic Adult and Therapist

Closeup of family feet in wool socks at fireplace

What My Daughter on the Spectrum Has Taught Me About Christmastime

I watched the Rockefeller tree lighting with my kids this week. As you would expect there were Christmas songs and dancing, interspersed with commercials about the holidays and what to buy. “Christmas is here!” Al Roker announced. On cue my 15-year-old daughter, who’s on the autism spectrum, sat up and asked when we were leaving [...]