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My five year old son is autistic and last year we took him to an Easter Egg Hunt. It was sponsored by an Autism school in our area. The week before I prepped him and we did a practice run. I laid the eggs out on the floor and showed him how to pick them up and put them in his basket. He didn't understand why we were doing this and quite honestly didn't want to pick up any eggs. That is, until I showed him what was inside. From there on he'd pick up an egg, open it and eat the contents. Go to the next egg, open and eat. I tried to convince him to pick up ALL the eggs at once and then examine its contents. But he wasn't interested in that approach.
So we go to the hunt and there are hundreds of eggs on the lawn, maybe even thousands. It was really pretty, my cell phone couldn't capture a good photo so unfortunately I don't have any to share. But my son had a great time with his one-egg-at-a-time approach. He didn't get many eggs but he was a happy camper.
We plan to go again this year. Since my little guy is young we're just a few years into this diagnosis. But I have learned so him about him and his interests and needs. Especially when it comes to toys and gifts. So I wanted to share some ideas if you are making an Easter Basket for an autistic kid. You might be a grandparent looking for items and not sure what to buy. Or a family friend who wants to make Easter special for someone's child. I think it's harder when you are unfamiliar with autism and stumped on what to buy. Hopefully this list will give you some ideas!
Some autistic kids like my son need to work on their fine motor skills. Melissa and Doug toys are great for this! Last year I got my son this set of lacing beads. It helps them with grasping and hand manipulation. This particular one can also help a child learn numbers, shapes and colors.
Stacking toys also work well for fine motor skills. Shape sorters are also a lot of fun, such as this Fisher Price one. We started with this and graduated to more complex ones after he mastered it.
Lakeshore Learning also has a lot of unique toys, such as this Magnetic Color Maze. Not only does it help with fine motor skills, but it helps a child learn colors and counting.
In a nutshell, these are toys that provide a particular sensory input that autistic kids crave. You don't have to go far to find these, Toys R Us even has them. We're talking items like play doh, sand and toys for water play. Things that the hands can play with and touch, items with different textures. This year I pick up this Pizza Play Doh set for my son.
It's so perfect for him. It combines his love of pizza with his love of play doh. But you don't even have to start with a set like this, a more simple one with cookie cutters will do. They will love the action of rolling the dough, cutting the shapes and holding it in their hands.
Do you have a kid that likes to chew on things?
Some kids need that sensory input and will chew on items that are not appropriate for chewing. To give them the input that they need, a number of chew toys are available. I have purchased a number of them from the Therapy Shoppe. Some of them even can be worn as a necklace. Type in "chew' into their search bar and it will bring up some really neat options.
Do you have a kid that likes to burrow and hide? Is their favorite hiding spot a closet?
Tents are perfect for them. Toys R Us has the kind that fold and collapse making it easy for storage. But if you're going for something with a Wow factor check this out:
This one is made by Privacy Pop. It comes in many colors and I bought the blue one you see above. My son just loved it. He also has sleep issues and it has helped him sleep better. Heck, I even nap in it and get some peaceful rest. I love it!
Some kids just need to keep their hands busy. Or they may need something to calm them. This is where fidget toys come in. Here are some of the toys I've bought for my son from the Therapy Shoppe:
So there you have it, a list that can be a starting point for your gift search. Most of the ones I've mentioned above will fit into an Easter Basket. And I'm sure I've left out a lot of cool toy ideas too. Autism parents, have any other suggestions or recommendations? Let me know in the comments below.