Autism Resources

Sensory-Friendly Gift Giving Guide

BlueSprig November 28, 2022

Gift giving season is upon us, and you might be asking yourself what kind of sensory-friendly gifts are out there. One of the most popular questions BCBAs get from caregivers around this time of the year is “What is a good gift I can get for my child?”  Picking a gift for your child that is appropriate, educational, fun and not breaking the bank can be difficult!

If you are wondering what a sensory-friendly item is, ASERT Autism Resources defines it as an activity or toy that helps “satiate the sensory needs of those who need extra input to function and concentrate adequately in social environments.” This just means that one of these gifts below could be a soothing or fun tool for a child on the spectrum.

While all children are unique and have different needs, the toys on this list are a great place to get sensory-friendly gift ideas. This list only skims the surface of the fun holiday gifts out there! If you have more questions about specific gifts for your loved ones, feel free to reach out to your child’s BCBAs, teachers, SLPs, OTs, or pediatricians.

Happy Holidays!

How Toys Can Help Skill Development

  1. Turn taking/waiting: Games often provide clear, concise instructions. The best way to get children to buy into a game is making sure they are easy to understand, follow and they can eventually explain to peers. Board games are a great example of this.
  2. Giving/following directions: Following directions can be a difficult skill to master. Multistep activities and books may not be what your child adds to their amazon wishlist but they can be super fun once they are in their possession. Giving directions is also something to practice when doing these activities.
  3. Independent play: Playing alone without a tablet can be hard. When you as the caregiver just need a minute it is better to have a larger repertoire of activities/items your child can engage with on their own.
  4. Cause and effect: Teaches kids thought processes like If I do this… something cool happens. Cause and effect toys activities are great for younger kids who are working on joint attention and requesting goals.
  5. Motor Skills: From arts and crafts to building there are a wide variety of activities you can do to encourage some gross and fine motor skill development. If there are more specific motor skills you are targeting in Occupational therapy, you can ask your OT for suggestions as well!
  6. Pretend play: Expanding the ability to see things just as they are.. and exploring what we can make them! Creative/pretend play is so important for all of our kids. This takes flexible thinking which is a great mind exercise. Dive into your child’s favorite characters or movies.  You can even do social skills role play when using pretend play!
Disclaimer: The linked items below are merely examples of items that could be purchased. We do not warrant, endorse, guarantee, or assume responsibility for the accuracy or reliability of any information offered by third-party websites linked.

Calming Ocean Waves Projector

Calming Ocean Waves Projector

If you are looking to create a calming space for a child, an ocean waves projector like this Bright Autism one can do that in a snap. This one also plays music that is great for bedtime.





The Wiggly Giggler Rattle

The Wiggly Giggler RattleNational Autism Resources describes the Wiggly Giggler as a rattle the helps define motor skills while listening to silly sounds. The fun colors, sounds, and weight makes this a great tool to help out a child when they are feeling overwhelmed.







Sensory Foam Blocks

Sensory Foam BlocksSensory-friendly foam blocks like these Edushape puzzle blocks are a great gift for more than one reason. These soft, bumpy blocks not only provide tactile stimulation, but also assist with spatial and reasoning skills.







Playtime Water Mat

Playtime Water Mat


Water mats like this Earlyears one can be used with or without water for tactile fun. The inner tube can be filled up with water, which means that this can be used indoors without any mess. The toys inside of it float up and can be squished and moved around during sensory play.






Textured Mitts

textured mitts

Textured Mitts like these TFH ones are a great way for kids to experience different textures in a safe space. They can put the mitts on their hands or simply touch the outside for comfort.