My two children are both on the autism spectrum, but they are as different as different can be. Gray has excellent verbal skills and has learned to express himself very well, while Hope often struggles to communicate basic needs and ideas.
Both kids are awesome! Each one lights up my life in their own unique way, and I couldn’t imagine my life without them. I am very, very blessed to be their mom.
Each year, it’s inevitable that Christmas will roll around. Gray’s birthday is actually at the end of November, so he usually has a very comprehensive list drawn up that takes us right through the holiday season. Although now that he’s a teen, he’s a big fan of cash and gift cards, too. Easy peasy, right?
Hope is more of a Christmas challenge. We struggle with what we can give her that will be meaningful, useful and not drive us too crazy. Since she has never really expressed what she would like, it’s very hard to know.
I’ve tried taking her to toy stores and seeing what she gravitates toward, and then going back later and buying it. The problem is, we found she was often more interested in the packaging and ignored the actual gift.
She has some very specific, focused interests. She loves drinking straws, but she already has about a thousand and she really doesn’t need more.
She loves sorting and playing with beads, but again, she has more than she can use. Also, they are on par with LEGO as being excruciating to step on, so I really don’t want a whole lot more lurking around the house, either!
Experience gifts can be great, and sometimes we buy a membership to a zoo or local museum or amusement park that we can enjoy all year long. But, that’s a pretty abstract concept, and I want her to have concrete gifts she can open, enjoy and play with on Christmas morning.
So what’s a Mom a to do? I have turned to Amazon.com, and they have helped me immensely. I’m hoping to do a series each week until Christmas on things that Hope has really enjoyed, and I’d love your suggestions, too. I’m still working on this year’s list!
Hope loves music, she hums all the time. A few years ago, we bought her a 26 key xylophone. It has a couple of octaves, along with flats and sharps so that you can really play tunes. Hope loves it!
She spent several weeks playing one key at a time, over and over again. And then, when she understood the sound, she began playing songs. Seriously, no lessons, no music, but this girl has a gift and the xylophone gave her a way to express it. We all love hearing her sing and play, and I can’t recommend it enough.
I also try to find toys that get her outside, because she tends to want to stay in the house. Last year, we found this awesome balance bike. She’d had trouble with traditional bikes because the coordination needed to push her feet one way to pedal, another way to brake and coordinate her hand movements was too much for her.
Also, even with training wheels, a bike still wobbles and shifts and that was very distressing for her. With the balance bike, her feet stay in contact with the ground if she wants, her hands do the steering and she doesn’t have to worry about braking.
Even after a year, she’s still learning how to completely use this bike, but I love that she can be out with the kids in our neighborhood with a bike that pretty much looks like theirs, but works for her.
Finally, there’s a wealth of sensory toys on Amazon. Hope loves all those little fidget spinners, fidget cubes and different textures. I keep some in my purse, in her backpack, in the car, etc. It can distract her and give her something to do when we’re out and about and she’s getting wound up.
I’ll be back next week with more gift ideas, and I’d love to know what’s worked for you or your kiddos. Please feel free to leave a comment here or on my Facebook page, I’d love your suggestions!