The following are items appropriate for stashing in the holiday stocking for the child on the Autism Spectrum. Hopefully they will be a hit in other households as well.
Shopping online is so convenient when you have an autistic child, but when it comes to picking out tactile items touching them at the Discovery Store is loads of fun. The store has all the animal movies in boxed sets, gadgets for the parents, books for kids and then the fidgets for children. The prices are very reasonable making it affordable for my family budget. The DiscoveryChannelStore.com website has many of the in-store products.
Last week I brought home a catalog to the delight of Nicholas, who immediately grabbed a pen and started circling all the items he was interested in. This year the theme seems to be on the solar system. He does the same thing with the Lego catalog. Luckily they have a Lego store at the same mall in close proximity to the Discovery Store. A few years ago Matthew picked out a peanut styled ball for exercise that he uses to roll over and bounce on.
Tangle Toys – The Magic is in the Motion! - I picked up one of these at Discovery Store, it is rainbow colored and fun for adults too. There are many color options with a junior size available for the smaller child. Nicholas has shown more interest in the Tangle Toys. Their website has all the details.
Maui Toys – We have the Electro Lights Tulip Purple base with Yellow Tulip. It is sparkling fun that turns and delights the senses. There is a button to keep the light show going. They require 3 “AA” batteries and can stand in an upright position. The tulips are plastic and will not damage the fingers of the child if they touch it while spinning. It is also similar to a solar system when it turns and is lit up.
Nicholas actually knew that once the button is depressed the Maui Toys stay turned on before I even realized that was an option. The Maui Toys Electro-Lights are known as an “ ever changing celestial light show”. The recommended age starts at three for the Maui Toys. They are sold in Target, Kmart and Toys R Us stores. We have three of them.
They all are easy to grasp in the hand, with the handle section standing about six inches tall. They make noises as they twirl around with the colors changing and moving in direction. The button gets pressed in for turning it on and then pressing it up for the lock position. The blue one is a disc that is flat and flashes purple, blue, yellow and red. The handles have labels on them with the battery instructions. The battery compartment is at the base. You will need a screwdriver to open this up and install batteries. These light-up wands are like hand-held disco balls, without the music.
Matthew enjoys looking at them and smiles when he sees the lights turning colors. Nicholas, being higher functioning has a longer attention span and can coordinate the toys better, indicating his pleasure and the appeal of the Maui Toys.
Insect Lore Buzzerks Eyewear - The age requirement on these glasses is six and older. At ten Nicholas can still wear them and often does around the house. They may be worn to the school Halloween parade. He goes through phases where he likes bugs and watches Animal Planet's Most Extreme shows that list the top ten gross bugs and the like.
These bug lenses flip forward for wacky bug-eye vision where you get the bug eye perspective with the lenses in front of the eye socket of the regular lens. These are clear, plastic that can either be in front of the lens or pushed back for a clearer view from the glasses. It is a small round circle that resembles a psychedelic vision, in my opinion.
The shade you see when having the Insect Lore Buzzerks Eyewear - Mantis on is light green. There is a black hook that is curled to form the bridge for the nose. This does not move and seems very secure in its place. The glasses fold over with ease and can be stored this way in a flat position.
Although it does not state you cannot wear these glasses outside, they are not to be used for protection against the sun, and you should not look directly into the sun while wearing them. It is also advised not to wear the glasses for any kind of physical activity - such as roller-skating, skateboarding, running or bike riding.
Nicholas has enjoyed wearing them and brought them to school last year to show some classmates. I find this a fairly cheap way for him to have some fun in exploration while staying in a safe environment. They do not hurt his eyes, nose or ears when they are worn and let boys be boys. This sparks the imagination of a bug loving kid, but only the pretend kind and not the real ones that creep into the house at times.
Hoberman Mini sphere – This will expand from 5 ˝” to 12”. The texture is very different and actually not pleasant for me due to having eczema on my hands. I feel it irritates my skin, but luckily both boys have played with the Hoberman Mini Sphere since I introduced it to them. It glows in the dark, expands and spins, although it might pinch little fingers.
The Hoberman Mini Sphere consists of black and neon green hubs. They can be snapped in place to keep the circled shape so you can roll it along the floor. We enjoyed the glow-in-the-dark effect by entering the bathroom and turning off the lights to see the magic.
The Hoberman Mini Sphere almost resembles a miniature holiday tree in the upright position. This will stand flat and returns to this position after being opened. I had Matthew sit in front of me on the floor as I demonstrated the opening and closing sequence to the Hoberman Mini Sphere. This is quite mesmerizing to watch and it has a sound effect of the hubs flicking one another during this process.
Nicholas enjoys holding the Hoberman Mini Sphere in his hand while popping it open as he watches television. The recommended age is for four years and older. Nicholas was eight when I purchased it. He also likes to place his hand inside and twirl it around his arm. It is also a great stress buster for your desk at work or the home office.
Both Nicholas and I fight over plastic bubble wrap that comes inside boxes, since we both like to pop the bubbles. The Hoberman Mini Sphere is a similar type of item with the pressing down of the snaps to keep it in the open position. Since this is also glow-in-the-dark it would be good for outdoors in the summer time. There was no mention on the box that this could not be used outdoors.
Magnetix - 35 pieces. I started out with this size for Nicholas a couple of years ago and then the following year purchased an 85-piece set. I like the color options with this set, yellow, blue, orange, purple, green and red. The age range starts at six, and you must note to use caution around small children since the magnetic balls are a choking hazard. Nicholas gets to experiment making all sorts of items using his imagination. We have kept the pieces inside the box when not in use. You might want to invest in some sort of jar with lid to house the contents or save the box for storage purposes. This product works on the eye-hand coordination skills and can be applied for learning math.
Integrations is geared to children with sensory and learning differences. This is part of the Abilitations Catalog. We have the Dolphin Aquatic Lamp, item # 1-03579-142. This plugs into an outlet, needs no water and has dolphins rotate in an underwater scene. For a catalog, call 1-800-622-0638. You can see the site to get the Dolphin Lamp This might be too large for a regular Christmas stocking, but would be perfect for a larger stocking or to leave on the mantel as a gift.
Rainsticks - These are also sold at Integrations and lots of fun. At the special education preschool classroom Matthew attended they had a wooden rainstick that he would hold during circle time. Here is the site to check them out further. The price is very reasonable in three sizes.
Toys to consider for Christmas
Animal Alley Arby Dog
An impression of autism from a kid on the Spectrum