The ground is glistening white with snow. Every other house is lighted by jolly red, white and green Holiday designs. The Christmas tree is gratefully still standing with a clear mental check list of all the prized $5 to $15 ornaments at the top of the tree. (Whew!) And inside every top secret nook and cranny are gifts tightly triple bagged and double knotted securely for the big day.
For parents with special needs children, keeping the snow outside, the lights up on the house and the tree standing tall from November through January aren’t the only challenges we face. Gift giving can be extremely difficult too! There’s additional safety concerns to be alert to, age-appropriate discrepancies to sort through, and out-of-pocket expenses to be compared to how long it will actually take your child with autism to dismantle it in some cases.
If you’re still holding it together, take a deep breath and grab a cup of hot cocoa. The AHSS team would like to set your mind at ease and still spare you enough time to run out to the nearest store to pick up those last minute “must-haves” for the special Autistic child in your life.
Here are the top 5 gifts our Care Team Members (CTM) want to see in the homes of their clients this holiday season:
5. Sensory-Seeker Friendly Toys
Most children with Autism need an outlet for sensory overload. Sometimes this can be jumping on a trampoline, diving into a giant beanbag or five minutes with a koosh ball. It’s tough to work hard for two to four hours of ABA…and not just for your child but for your CTM as well. Buy a few gifts that will benefit every sensory seeker on the team and assist with pairing efforts with your child as well!
4. Visuals, Books and Flash Cards, oh my!
Special pencils, extra PECS pictures, simple board and other age appropriate books, flashy pencil grips, colorful flash cards, and all exclusive handwriting paper all make excellent stocking stuffers. Not only that but they are sure to put a smile on your CTMs face this Christmas as well! If the therapy bin appears low on anything, just toss it in for more holiday cheer!
3. Electronic Treasures
Most of our clients own a beloved iPad but there are more electronic devices than meets the “i”… Nintendo’s Wii U has it’s own touch screen handheld device for gaming purposes, which makes this skill easier to obtain than you might think, especially for the current iPad user. The X Box Kinect is a great way to get your AHSS Team dancing without even needing to hold the remote. Even an electronic remote control car may keep us on the edge of our seats at our next session, so when it comes to electronics, try to think outside of the Apple box, if you know what I mean. 😉
2. Time Well Spent and Heart Warming Memories
Life is what we make it and your child’s AHSS team works hard to make it all worthwhile for you, your child and your family. Take some time and slow down. Spend quality down time with your child; they deserve it and it is the fuel to a hard’s day work. It drives the memories created through time spent together just being a kid.
This holiday season, your AHSS team wants to see you make heart-warming memories with your child with autism, and they are sure to enjoy hearing all about it at their next session after all the Christmas excitement dies down!
1. Lots of CONTINUED progress!!!!!
Of course CONTINUED PROGRESS is at the top of our list of gift “must-haves” this Holiday season. After all you’ve got a dedicated AHSS Team working with your special needs child, so you are sure to see lots of continued progress well into the New Year!
And that’s our list of gifts every AHSS CTM wishes your child will get this holiday season! Still feeling overwhelmed? It doesn’t hurt to ask! Feel free to ask your child’s AHSS team for gift ideas that best suit your child’s specific wants and needs.
Happy Holidays from our team to yours,
Michelle O’Neill, AHSS Lead CTM and mother of a Special Needs child …plus two!