2023 Gift Guide for Children with Autism and Sensory Sensitivities

As every parent of a child with autism or sensory sensitivities knows, finding the gift that fits your child’s unique preferences can be a bit tricky.

The best way to go about buying a great holiday gift for your child is to start from experience. What activities, objects, and sensations does your child love the most? Which do they find most uncomfortable?

With answers to these questions in hand, you can start planning the perfect gift that will engage, comfort, and encourage your child.

You might find it helpful to look through a list of suggestions to get you thinking. Below you’ll find a list of popular gifts for children with autism and unique sensory needs, along with a brief description of the benefits you can expect from each. You’ll find gifts of all types and price ranges, from DIY crafts to bedroom furniture!


Gift Ideas



$ = $0-$25

$$ = $25-$75

$$$ = $75+


Toys and Games

Fidget Toys ($)

A variety pack of fidget toys provides different textures and movements to help your child relax and concentrate. Fidget toys provide a tangible outlet for excess energy and sensory input, helping children with autism and/or sensory sensitivity to focus and self-regulate. They’re easy to bring anywhere, and can provide comfort in new or uncomfortable environments.

Play-Doh ($)

A set of Play-Doh or other modeling clay is a versatile tool for sensory exploration, aiding in the development of fine motor skills and creativity. The tactile experience of squeezing, rolling, and molding can be especially soothing for children with sensory sensitivities.

Memory Games ($)

Memory games improve cognitive skills such as concentration, memory recall, and attention to detail. Choose memory games with large, colorful cards featuring familiar images to capture the attention of young children. A pair-matching game with pictures of animals, shapes, or everyday objects can be educational, entertaining, and help promote social interaction with other children!

Motor Skill-Focused Toys ($-$$)

Toys and games that focus on motor skills can be adapted to accommodate various sensory preferences, providing an engaging way for children with autism to enhance their physical abilities. A set of soft building blocks or ride-on toys is perfect for developing coordination and gross motor skills, while toys that involve twisting, stacking, or connecting pieces are great for developing your child’s fine motor skills.


Your Child’s Environment

Play Tents ($)

A cozy play tent provides a personal space for your child to relax and play imaginatively. This enclosed space can be especially comforting for children with sensory sensitivities, offering a retreat from overstimulation and an increased sense of security.

Light Projectors ($)

A calming light projector with adjustable settings can transform any room into a soothing environment, creating a visually comforting space for children with autism and/or sensory sensitivities. They are particularly helpful for children who benefit from visual stimulation or those who find comfort in predictable patterns of light.

Sound Machines ($)

A portable sound machine can mask distracting noises with calming sounds, such as white noise or nature sounds, that promote relaxation. Sound machines can create a consistent auditory environment for increased relaxation and better sleep, especially for children with heightened sensitivities to noise.

Sound-Canceling Headphones ($)

Kid-friendly sound-canceling headphones offer a comfortable way for your child to manage noise levels in various environments, providing a sense of control and reducing stress. They can heighten a child’s sense of safety and comfort no matter what they’re doing!

Fun Eating Utensils ($)

Colorful and engaging eating utensils make mealtime fun! The added shapes and textures can make the dining experience more appealing for your child and encourage independence when eating. This can be especially helpful for children with ARFID for whom eating is normally a stressful experience.

Play Mats ($$)

A padded and textured play mat offers a safe and comfortable space for play. The sensory-rich environment provides a comfortable and defined space that offers tactile input and a sense of boundaries. Consider buying a mat with colorful velcro attachments for additional opportunities for play!

Weighted Blankets ($$)

Weighted blankets provide deep pressure stimulation, which can have a calming effect on the nervous system. A soft and appropriately weighted blanket provides a comforting touch, promoting relaxation and better sleep for your child.

Bean Bag Chairs/Pods ($$$)

A cozy bean bag chair or pod offers a comfortable seating option that conforms to your child’s body, creating a supportive space for relaxation. The tactile experience of sinking into a soft chair can be soothing for children with sensory sensitivities, and the adaptable design is perfect for children seeking a particular kind of physical support while they play or nap.


Do It Yourself!

Cardboard Costumes ($)

Create fun and engaging costumes for your child using cardboard! Cardboard costumes offer a hands-on and creative outlet for children with autism. The costumes provide a unique way for children to express themselves through pretend play and self-expression, all while experiencing different textures and sensations. Popular choices for cardboard costumes include dinosaurs, Transformers, and more!

  • Dinosaur costume example video here.
  • Transformer costume example video here.

Oobleck ($)

Oobleck is an intriguing fluid made by simply mixing cornstarch and water. It has a unique texture that is both liquid and solid, which encourages exploration and can be a soothing and calming sensory activity.

  • You can find an example video here.

Sensory Bottle ($)

A sensory bottle is a clear container filled with various items, such as glitter, beads, or colored liquid. It provides visual and auditory stimulation as children explore the changing patterns and sounds. Watching the items inside move can be mesmerizing, promoting visual tracking and a sense of focus for children with autism.

  • You can find an example video here.

Slime ($)

Slime is a squishy and stretchy substance made from simple ingredients like glue, baking soda, and an activator (usually, contact solution). It provides a fun and tactile experience for children to squeeze, stretch, and manipulate while keeping them calm and engaged.

  • You can find an example video here.

Texture Boards ($)

Texture boards are surfaces with various textures attached, such as sandpaper, fur, or fabric. Children can touch and explore the different textures, which can help desensitize or engage the tactile system, promoting both comfort and exploration.

  • You can find an example video here.

Sensory Bins ($)

Sensory bins are containers filled with materials like rice, beans, or water beads, along with objects for scooping and pouring. They create an interactive and tactile play experience that allows children to explore different textures and develop fine motor skills.

  • You can find an example video here.