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Gifts for Neurodivergent Kids: Holidays and Beyond

Updated: Feb 9

Parents and kids alike benefit from presents that consider an individual child's preferences, sensitivities, and abilities, especially when buying for a neurodivergent child. When you're buying for neurodiverse children, your present has the potential to mean more than a gift.

Below, we go over categories based on age ranges, along with some options highly-rated by parents and experts in the field. If you decide to buy clothing, ensure it's sensory-friendly, meaning that it is very soft and comfortable without irritating tags, seams, or necklines that can feel tight or cause a choking sensation.

Before we begin, please note we were not asked or paid to promote any items on this list. All selections are based on reviews and ratings by parents and educational experts in neurodiversity. Please note the product specifications, such as the appropriate age levels listed for each item and keep in mind the type of condition the neurodivergent child in your life has, as this may change depending on needs.

Preschool (Ages 3-5):

Children ages 3-5 benefit from toys, games, and aides that provide opportunities for learning, creativity, social interaction, and developing empathy. These play a crucial role in a child’s overall development.

Sensory Toys:

  1. Squishy toys, fidget spinners, or textured balls can provide tactile stimulation. Sensory Fidget Tubes are suitable for children of all abilities, and they offer a safe and inclusive way for children to engage in sensory play and self-regulation.

  2. Light-up toys and ones with different textures and colors. Edushape sensory balls and Teachable Touchables Texture Squares help children develop a visual sense, something that can be lacking in neurodivergent children.

  3. Weighted blankets or vests for calming sensory input. There are many brands like Blanquil and Bearabythat offer options, plus a google search of weighted blankets for kids should find an option in your budget.

  4. Picture books with interactive elements (textures, sounds, flaps)

Interactive and Learning Games:

  1. Simple matching games or puzzles like eeBoo: I Never Forget a Face, Memory & Matching Game andeeBoo: What Do I Do? Conversation Flashcards

  2. JOYIN Rainbow Counting Bears with Matching Sorting Cups enhances motor skills and promotes motivation for developing minds.

Visual and Auditory Stimulation:

  1. Bubble machines or light projectors. 

  2. Musical instruments or toys that produce soothing sounds. Studies have shown pets noises from toys like Harry the Interactive Dog may help desensitize children who struggle with noises. 

Empathy Awareness and Development

  1. Nurture emotional intelligence with toys that teach self-love, positive thinking, social skills, confidence, and more with gifts like Generation Mindful Peace Makers and Omi The Elephant Meditation Toy.

Elementary School (Ages 6-11):

Look for toys and games that aim to support kids ages 6-11 holistic development, encompassing cognitive, social, emotional, and physical aspects.

Educational Games:

  1. Board games that encourage strategy and critical thinking. Learning Resources Mental Blox Critical Thinking Game is a highly rated game for kids 5-9.

  2. Educational apps or software tailored to specific learning needs.

Building Toys:

  1. Building blocks and construction toys for creativity and focus. Lego stands the test of time as a fun, skill-growing, educational toy that kids will love. Just remind the parents not to step on them. 

  2. Magnetic building blocks.

  3. Sensory building blocks. Nugget Play Couch helps create proprioceptive input—or the sensory input our bodies receive from jumping, crashing, pushing, pulling, and lifting. This input gives our bodies a better understanding of where we are in space to inform body awareness skills and coordination, as well as contributes to self-regulation.

Art Supplies:

  1. Drawing and coloring supplies.

  2. Craft kits or DIY projects. With a Make Your Own Monster Kit, there is no right or wrong way to make a monster friend, so it’s a frustration-free way for kids to DIY.

Empathy Awareness and Development:

  1. How I'm Feeling Cards prompts children to share their feelings.

  2. Mad Dragon helps kids identify and learn to deal with anger and frustration.

Middle School (Ages 12-14):

As kids grow into the tween and teen years, items should continue to support their cognitive, social, emotional, and physical development while also addressing their growing need for autonomy and more complex challenges.

Hobbies and Special Interests:

  1. Kits related to their interests (science, art, coding, etc.).

Tech Gadgets:

  1. Noise-canceling headphones. Banz makes affordable headphones and earmuffs for babies and kids.

  2. Tablets or devices with educational apps.

Organization Tools:

  1. Visual schedules or planners.

  2. Storage solutions for keeping their space organized. Swoop bags and 3Sprouts have numerous types of storage options for kids of all ages.

High School (Ages 15-18):

Once a child is a teenager, think about gifts that can play a significant role in their development by addressing their evolving interests, cognitive abilities, and preparing them for adulthood.

Skill-Building Activities:

  1. Classes or workshops in areas of interest (art, coding, music, etc.). 

  2. Adaptive sports equipment or memberships.

Technology and Gadgets:

  1. Smart devices for organization and communication.

  2. Virtual reality experiences for sensory exploration.

  3. Tools or accessories that assist with daily tasks (adaptive keyboards, grips, etc.).

Social Activities:

  1. Board games or card games for social interaction. There are many conversation starter games like this aptly card game named Teen Conversation Cards

  2. Tickets to events or activities they enjoy.

It’s important to consult with the parents or caregivers of a neurodivergent child to better understand their specific needs and preferences. Additionally, choosing gifts that promote inclusion and provide opportunities for social interaction can be beneficial for neurodivergent children.

As you look for gifts, we encourage you to search for the best prices available online and in stores—links provided are for easy searching but may not be the best price available when you are looking.

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