Contribution from freelance writer Lucy Wyndham
Every once in a while, the Leka Team is happy to welcome external contributors and share their food for thoughts. This post has been written by Lucy Wyndham whose husband is on the spectrum.
With 1 in every 160 children globally being on the autism spectrum, chances are very good that you will be looking to buy a present for one of these special children. Buying the perfect gift for someone you care about is never easy and it can become even more difficult when buying for a child on the spectrum. Celebrations such as Christmas and birthdays can be exceptionally challenging for a child on the spectrum as receiving gifts can prove to be very stressful. A lot of thought has to go into buying gifts and the following guidelines can help you substantially to find the perfect gift for a very cherished child in your life.
Toys that have a calming effect
Anxiety and stress are common among children on the autism spectrum which is why calming toys are often a very welcome addition to any household as it can make life significantly easier for the entire family. A lot of children on the spectrum thoroughly enjoy items that tenderly vibrates, making vibrating cushions a very handy gift. There is also an extensive range of weighted items on available on the market ranging from vests and blankets to stuffed toys and lap pads which are known to provide deep pressure stimulation that has a calming effect on an individual on the spectrum.
Toys that stimulate the senses
Many children, as well as teens on the spectrum, get great joy from sensory toys and products such as the technologically-advanced Leka smart toy or the Synchrony digital drum. If the child you want to buy a gift for is visually oriented there are many innovative toys available ranging from musical light shows to laser stars and even light-up twirlers. If the child likes touching things, why not opt for a more tactile gift such a moon sand kit, pin art set or finger painting essentials. When it comes to sensory toys, less is definitely more as you do not want to over-stimulate the child. Choose toys that don’t have too many lights and sounds as it can overwhelm the child and cause a lot of unnecessary stress.
Wrapping gifts for children on the spectrum
It is not uncommon for children on the spectrum to be wary of surprises. It is quite possible that they can become completely consumed and dismayed when presented with a wrapped gift simply because they don’t know what’s inside. Some children may refuse to even come into close proximity of the present out of fear for what it may contain. Other children may experience severe anxiety when having to unwrap their presents in front of the gift bearer as it puts them under pressure offer a suitable response, even if the gift is undesired. One of the easiest ways to address these issues is to give presents that have no wrapping or to wrap it in see-through cellophane so that the recipient can see exactly what they are getting. Alternatively, you can fill an unassuming box with exciting items that you know the child will appreciate.
When searching for the perfect gift for a beloved child on the spectrum it is important to remember that sometimes, regardless of the effort put into selecting a seemingly ideal gift, chances are it may be rejected. Do not take offense to it and, instead of becoming disheartened, simply shower the child with even more love and adoration which, at the end of the day, is the greatest gift any child could ask for.