A Gift Guide from Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism

Over the years many of us have struggled trying to figure out the perfect gift for our autistic friends or family, and while the quest may still be difficult, we’re hoping that some of the suggestions we have below, and in our Amazon store will give you a quick way to shop, or open your eyes to a new way to think about gifts.

No matter who you’re buying for, one thing we can all remember is to truly keep the recipient of the gift in mind. Gifts should be given because they work, not because they are “age appropriate” or “gender appropriate.” A “practical” gift that may seem unfestive to you, may bring lightness of heart for someone who struggles to make ends meet. And always, consider what that person enjoys doing, not what someone thinks they should like.

Give a Gift of Independence  

Description: bus, metro, or other transit pass, meal delivery gift certificates, movie passes
Recommendation: Make life a little easier by removing the financial barrier for simple transportation, and even if you don’t live nearby you can buy a friend dinner with a gift certificate. Even offering to set aside some time to drive for a friend, or run errands with, or for them, can make simple tasks take less time, and more enjoyable.

  • Good for Teens, Adults, college students
  • Look for local meal delivery (like Waiters on Wheels) or nearby favorite restaurants.
  • Check local transit agencies to determine an appropriate amount of money to send.

Recommended by: The TPGA Editorial team 

Give a Gift of Sensory Soothing

Description: non-glare task lighting, ipod or other mp3 player, weighted or soft blankets, a safe space heater, toiletries in preferred brands (or a gift card), gift certificates for massage or yoga. Tools for organization, like desk calendars, paper sorter trays, or offers to help with sorting and filing can be a big help, and clear a distracting environment.

Recommendation: Help create an environment that comforts and relaxes. Think of things that can soothe or calm, or better yet, prevent overload in the first place.

  • Good for all ages
  • Life is always better when our physical needs are met.

Recommended by: The TPGA Editorial team

Give a Gift of Clothing that Works

soft hat and gloves, soft fleece jackets, compression leggings, seamless socks, shoes with hook and loop closure, elastic waistband pants. 

Recommendation: Seamless, tagless, and non-binding clothing would make anyone happier.

  • Good for all ages
  • Once you find an item that works, make sure you remember where you got it. You might want to buy an extra if the item is working really well.

Recommended by: The TPGA Editorial team

Give the Gift of Safety and Ease of Use
Description: Shatterproof dishware, comfort grip kitchen tools, kitchen shears
Recommendation: Make independent living safer, or encourage more participation from your autistic child in the kitchen with tools that work.

  • Good for any age 
  •  A purchase the benefits the whole family

Recommended by: Aspie Teacher

Give the Gift of Experiences
Description: tickets to a local amusement park, annual pass to the zoo museum or aquarium, wristbands for the beach boardwalk, Disney gift cards, tickets to a show at the art museum, movie tickets, tuition for summer camp or a specialized class.
Recommendation: The best gifts for our sons are experiences. They are both very active, and we can enjoy the experience as a family. We get out, have fun, and there’s nothing more to store at the house!

  • Great way to support the entire family
  • Look for events and amusements that are local.

Recommended by: Sheryl who has 13 year old autistic twins.

Give the Gift of Stim!

Description: Diatonic Set of 8 BoomWhackers by Whacky Music. Set of 8 tuned plastic percussion tubes. Strike them (gently) onto any surface to change the quality of the tone, but the pitch remains the same. 

Recommendation: One of my son’s favorite stims is tapping, and while empty water bottles make a good sound, these tubes make great sounds! Our whole family can have a jam session. These are lightweight, but very durable too. We have purchased two sets over the years, and while they are a bit beat up, they never bent or broken.

  • For ages 3 and Up (all the grownups at our house love them)
  • Can purchased at Amazon

Recommended by: Jennifer Byde Myers. 


Give the Gift that “Only that Person Could Love”
Description: Acorns (or rocks, marbles, figurines, whatever “it” is)
Recommendation: The best gifts have the recipient’s needs and wants in mind. For our autistic son, that has always meant bypassing toys and gadgets and heading straight for … acorns. His “unusual fixation” for almost his entire life has been acorns, so we’ve always bought acorn-related items for him for holidays and birthdays: books, games, actual acorns. What does the autistic person in your life love? That’s the best gift guide of all.

  • Good for any age and ability
  • Look for the current, or continuing, thing that makes this individual happy
  • You may need to modify the item slightly to wrap it or make it an indoor present (river rocks can be washed and stored in a small plastic bin, for example)

Recommended by: Emily Willingham

Give the Gift of Good Information
Description: Thinking Person’s Guide To Autism, Loud Hands: Autistic People, Speaking

Recommendation: Share Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism with grandparents, friends, teachers, professionals for so they can have a positive, helpful, practical autism resource.

Loud Hands is the new book out by Autistics recommended by Kassiane Sibley. She says, It’s what we really think. It’s got our history, it’s got our past, our
present, our hopes for our future. It’s an “autism book” that the
family, autistic member especially included, could share and learn from
together. It can be a bonding experience, and it’s one that’s from…our
culture, even.”

Recommended by:  The TPGA Editorial team

We welcome additional suggestions, please put them in the comment section below, so everyone can benefit. Our Amazon store, filled with suggestions, will continue to be updated, and will remain available throughout the year.