Finding just the right holiday gift is often a challenging task. The selection process is further complicated when the recipient has Autism Spectrum Disorder.
According to Terri Matthews, Executive Producer of “On the Spectrum,” Mother, CEO and Founder of Jaden’s Voice, http://jadensvoice.org, terrimatthews.info, consider giving gifts that are calming in nature, facilitate communication, are tactile in nature, foster socialization, or are visual. She recently spoke with Late Night Health’s Mark Alyn about the following gift suggestions that have earned the Jaden’s Friend insignia, certifying that they are appropriate for children that are autistic. According to recent CDC statistics, that’s one out of every 68 children or one percent of the world’s population.
Calming items make good gifts. Miscommunication and misunderstandings are common for people on the spectrum due to social and communication struggles. Stress, anxiety, and meltdowns can be common. A soothing gift is not only enjoyable but can also make life easier for the whole family. Examples are:
• Weighted blankets
• Dream wave light
• Liquid Timer
The desire to express oneself is powerful, and one’s voice, breath, body is not always the perfect tool. Complex non-verbal communication systems often do a better job, so consider grabbing drums and pens and going with the flow.
• Where is Howie’s Owie?
Develop body awareness and vocabulary by using fun bandage magnets to identify body parts. Write and wipe easel has magnetic front with lines on the back for labeling. Includes write and wipe activity easel (folds flat to store), 20 colorful magnetic bandages and activity guide.
• Color Fun Fish Bowl
Putting colored fish in and taking them out of this talking fish bowl is a fun way to learn about colors. With two play modes children will learn their colors through a discovery game and a find it game. For ages two and up.
• Fishing Magnetic Puzzle Game
This magnetic wooden puzzle game features aquatic animal artwork. Use the magnetic fishing pole to “catch” the 10 colorful sea friends from the game board, then enjoy the challenge of returning them to their depths! It is a creative way to encourage hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills.
Our skin is our largest sensory organ. Touch is the most intimate of the senses. However, the understanding of what it means to have a poor-performing tactile sense is modern, but blindness and partial sight have their tactile equivalents. Over- and under-sensitive skin can cause very real difficulty for its bearer. A great deal of our appreciation of food is based on how it feels, itchy labels or fabrics can cause irritation, while kisses and pats can fail to soothe. Exposure to appropriate tactile variation during play can help widen what is acceptable and therefore reduce extreme reactions. Along with vestibular and proprioception, controlled tactile stimulation forms part of sensory integration therapy.
• Sensory Shapes, Set of Six
Children who play with these toys will enjoy the bumpy sensation as they squeeze the pliable material in their hands. Helping to refine fine motor skills, Sensory Shapes also offer massage stimulation. Latex Free.
• Chew Necklace Miller Heart-Magical
A versatile chewing option that is an attractive pendant style necklace, but also a great, squishy fidget item. The heart has various thicknesses around the perimeter and an opening in the middle that allows plenty of room for fingers to grab and squeeze. Comes on a soft cord. Made from medical grade, FDA approved silicone and are lead, latex, BPA, PVC and Phthalate free. Other styles: 3MLHTA-Amethyst(Purple), 3MLHT-Aquarius(Blue).
Developing relationships requires a whole set of skills. These skills come naturally to many, but others have experienced their lack on occasion. Taking turns is an excellent start: if the ability to read an emotion in another requires us to pay attention to that person, giving them the ball is a good way of getting our attention. Games are not always competitive, and cooperative games are lovely to play.
• Emoji Balls
Skip the text and send a friend a real-life Emoji instead! These fun, inflatable Emoji balls are 6” diameter and made from safe, soft vinyl. Toss them, bounce them, or use them to help express emotions.
Set of Seven balls.
• Giant Tic-Tac-Toe
The bigger the better! Connect the nine large foam squares in alternating colors like a jigsaw puzzle and immediately one is set to compete. Players grab either the five Xs or five Os – Then they start taking turns placing them on the BIG foam grid. The first to play three in a row wins.
Ready for something new? – Kids can rearrange the foam squares into an equally classic game of hopscotch. Encourages socialization, gross motor skills and cooperative play.
• Paddle Tether Ball
Paddle Tether Ball is a great game for developing hand-eye coordination and really gets kids moving and swinging outdoors. It’s adjustable to four different heights (up to 72″) and can be played as a one or two player game. Includes soft ball and wide paddles. Easy to assemble. Fill the base with water or sand water for stability on any flat surface.
Processing visual input takes up vast amounts of the brain and those with limited vision gain great pleasure from things which they can see. Balance, finger control and the emotional richness of faces all have their root in vision. Such is vision’s sensory dominance that people frequently close their eyes to appreciate music. Spinning things offer a particular fascination, as does the chaotic interior of a bubble column, a flickering flame or a fountain.
• Stoplight Golight Timer
The Stoplight Golight Timer helps everyone manage time. The concept is easily relatable to everyone – even children as young as two. Red light means stop and complete task, Green light means time is up, and it’s time to Go! Simply set the desired amount of time. Press Start, red light illuminates and time counts down. When time is up, red light off, green light on. It’s time to GO! Timer can be set for 0-15 hours and 0-59 minutes. Optional audible alarm included. AC Adaptor included.
Learn more at http://jadensvoice.org/
Jaden’s Voice will also introduce Jaden’s Friend, a directory and online community of autism friendly businesses, services, providers and products that have received the Jaden’s Voice seal of approval of caring, committed professionals, educators, community partners and businesses from every sector that have gone the extra mile to become certified as autism friendly.
“On the Spectrum,” an online television show that covers the full spectrum of autism on a twice weekly basis, on Tuesday and Thursday, launches in January at www.terrimatthewsonline.com/onthespectrum. Terri is the Executive Producer of this practical talk show that gets straight to the heart of the issue. She refers to it as “prescription television.”
Terri is married to former NFL linebacker and San Francisco 49er Lee Woodall, Super Bowl XXIX Champion. They reside in the suburbs of Philadelphia, PA, and have a blended family and work to balance and prioritize those demands.