If there’s one thing that can separate the holiday season from holiday cheer, it’s trying to come up with unique and thoughtful gifts for everyone on your list. But what will really get your wheels spinning is finding that perfect gift idea for your autistic loved ones.
Shopping for people on the autistic spectrum takes a little extra thought. To make it easier on you this holiday season, we’re pitching in some ideas to help. Below you’ll find some of the best gifts for autistic adults that will delight your loved ones!
Fun Stocking Stuffers
Whether you’re pinching pennies this holiday season or just looking for something special to sneak into your loved one’s stocking, then the small, super thoughtful gift ideas will be right up your alley.
Show how much you cherish your friend, relative or partner by surprising them with a Smunchies scrunchie this year.
Smunchies are beautiful hair accessories that double up as sensory processing aides. Wait, sensory — what? If you aren’t aware, people on the autism spectrum can have a tough time with sensory regulation. This can be stressful, and to cope, many engage in “stimming.” If you’ve ever noticed your loved one fidgeting, or making repetitive movements like jiggling their feet or rocking in a chair, then you’ve probably seen stimming firsthand. Put simply, stimming can help autistic people process heavy sensory situations.
With a soothing Smunchies on their wrist or wrapped around their hair, your loved one can discreetly squish and squeeze their way to calm while making a fashion statement at the same time! As one of the more meaningful gifts for autistic adults, the icing on top of the cake is that Smunchies come in multiple designs and colors, and what’s more adorbs than hanging one (or a few!) from the holiday tree?
The world is NOISY, especially during the holidays, as family members get together to talk, laugh, eat, and crank up the TV volume! All that crowded hustle and bustle can quickly lead to a feeling of sensory overwhelm, leading your autistic loved ones to seek a quiet place to chill. That’s why one of the most thoughtful gifts for autistic adults is the gift of noise reduction.
Earbuds like Calmer and loop earplugs put the world’s volume button directly into your loved one’s hands—they can decide for themselves what to listen to and tune out stressful frequencies and sounds. Plus, when it’s time to get down to work and concentrate, a noise-canceling pair of earbuds helps improve focus.
A Little Something Under the Tree
If you’re feeling more ambitious, you may want to opt for something bigger. Below are ideas for gifts for autistic adults that will take up little more space under the tree.
Chilly season calls for warmth and coziness, and that’s exactly what a weighted blanket offers. Unlike your everyday blanket, the pressure of a weighted blanket feels like a warm hug, invoking feelings of peaceful calm.
A weighted blanket is one of the more practical cold-weather gifts for autistic adults that everyone in the family will appreciate. Your loved one will relish wrapping themselves in their blanket as they curl up around the fireplace with a favorite book or movie. Make this gift holiday season-friendly by choosing a blanket in a fun, festive design.
Neurodivergent folks can often feel like a fish out of water, feeling awkward in situations that neurotypical people handle more easily. So, when it comes to gift-giving, thinking of gifts that can make your loved one’s life more comfortable is a great way to show you care.
Speaking of fish and water — how about gifting your loved one with a simulated aquarium this season? As cool as a real aquarium would be, it’s not exactly the most practical gift. Besides, a simulated aquarium provides the same benefits for neurodivergent folk as a real one would. That’s partly because stimming isn’t just about physical motions: visual and auditory stimming can help with self-soothing and emotional processing, too!
There’s something mesmerizing about watching fish swim, the visual effects of light and water paired together, and listening to the relaxing sounds of water, that brings about a sense of calm and tranquility while helping with sensory regulation.
It’s The Thought That Really Counts
We’ve shared a list of thoughtful gifts for autistic adults, from fun stocking stuffers to bigger items that can fit under the tree. While our choices aim to improve your loved ones’ lives by helping them manage sensory regulation difficulties, it should go without saying that you don’t need to limit yourself to gifts that offer sensory solutions.
The most important tip to remember when gift shopping for an autistic loved one is to consider sensory needs, their own unique interests, and the practical implications of being neurodivergent. This means acknowledging that what might be enjoyable for a neurotypical person might not be so great for a neurodivergent one. For example, while you might love to be gifted with concert tickets or passes to a light show, someone with autism might wince at the idea of spending all night at a noisy, overcrowded event.
So, before you decide on what you think is the perfect gift, put yourself in your loved ones shoes and consider their perspective. Whoever you’re shopping for, Smunchies is keepin’ it mindful this holiday season with a thoughtful sensory hair accessory in soothing fabrics that everyone on your shopping list will love!