5 simple steps when shopping for an Autistic child

My son was diagnosed Autistic in June 2015.

Spending everyday with any child gives you a good knowledge on their likes, dislikes and what makes them tick in general. When Riley was between 12-18 months I knew he wasn’t like a regular child of his age. Riley lacked any kind of eye contact, he wouldn’t turn if you made a loud noise or called his name. Riley was/is very accident prone, explores everything with attention to detail and has massive sensory overload.

Riley has never been interested in your ‘typical’ toys for his age. By this I mean sitting on a ride on toy, staking blocks, playing with a train on a wooden track, getting mucky in a sandpit etc. Everything would always go straight into Riley’s mouth. Before receiving Riley’s diagnosis I became very frustrated that he wouldn’t play with his toys even if I sat alongside him. Riley would immediately get up, walk away and simply ignore me.

However…spending every day together and giving Riley anything in sight to keep him quiet whether we be indoors or out I slowly started to understand the type of toys Riley enjoyed –

  1. Bubbles no matter Riley’s age he loves to watch the bubble slowly falling and popping them
  2. Weighted toys especially when he’s tired. Riley’s comfort is a tag, as in what’s inside your clothing.
  3. Fidget and squeezy toys (that have a different feel and texture)
  4. Disco lights, star projectors, bath underwater lights
  5. Glow sticks
  6. Slinky toy (for the stairs)
  7. Listening to music and kids theme tunes
  8. LED spinning toys. The pound shop is perfect for these especially during the holidays – Christmas etc
  9. Balls that flash when they bounce
  10. Gears/ cogs that join together and spin
  11. A ball pit
  12. Wooden form boards with larger knobs
  13. Abacus/ Letter and alphabet style abacus (to spin)
  14. Trampoline
  15. Simple handheld fan
  16. Stacker toys
  17. Riley loves shapes and pictures (see below)

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I could go on and on. I stopped buying Riley ‘regular’ toys for his age a long time ago. I only buy things that will interest him because developmentally he is nowhere near a 3-year-old. The ironic thing was, that once I had received Riley’s diagnosis and met the speech and language therapist and occupational therapist they told me the type of toys I should start buying for Riley.

It felt great that I knew my son and his needs so well that I was already doing this. What was a real shocker is the prices that some places charge because the toys are branded ‘special needs’. It’s crazy and I’d never pay that sort of money, unless there was no way around it. I found it very easy to pick up a selection of sensory and tactile toys (I didn’t know this was what they were called before the diagnosis) at my local supermarket and even in town. Honestly the pound shop was amazing for some of my finds.

So…the purpose of my blog today is mearly to give you a helping hand with purchasing some toys for either your Autistic child or if you are thinking ‘what can I buy he/she for Christmas or their birthday etc if they’re a friends child.

  1. The first piece of advice I will give to you is ask! You never know until you ask and trust me there’s nothing wrong with asking. If it was me I’d really appreciate the fact you asked because that would mean my son would have something I knew he would genuinely enjoy on that special occasion opposed to an unsuitable toy that would only collect dust in the garage. Also I’d really appreciate that you took time to show  an interest in my child’s likes.
  2. Certainly shop around, just because it says it’s a ‘sensory’ toy or a toy for ‘special needs’ doesn’t mean you can’t get the same or something similar that’s not ‘labelled’ elsewhere for less money.
  3. I’d always avoid giving a gift voucher or money because to me that looks as though you couldn’t be arsed to 1) ask and 2) explore whats out there.
  4. Just because on the box it says it’s for a 3-year-old doesn’t necessarily mean it’s suitable for every 3-year-old. There are certain textures my son won’t give a second look. So if in doubt go back to number 1 and ‘ASK’
  5. Ask about whether or not to wrap the gift, as silly as it may sound. Like any ‘normal’ celebration we wrap gifts. After speaking to a few people about how Riley would avoid his presents, not entertaining opening them or even watch me open them. I was told of a tip – not to wrap the presents instead put them inside gift bags and let Riley see what’s inside the bag and then if he likes this he’ll take it out. I tried this for the first time for Rileys birthday and it was a success. The way forward for me certainly!

I have so much I could share but for now I just want to keep this post short and sweet with a few simple tips and ideas on gifts if you’re stuck.

I’d love to hear if you found this post helpful in any way, please feel free to share. I’d love to hear about any past or futures experiences you may have upcoming or may have had.

Let me know if you’ve purchased any exciting gifts for Christmas (because I could do with some fresh ideas) or if you know of a great site that sells sensory toys at a reasonable price.

I’m always happy to read your comments and will always try to reply click here to get in touch 🙂

C x



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