25 Gifts and Toys that Autistic and Disabled Teenagers and Adults Actually Want | 2022

Gift for Disabled Teenager and Adults

Teens and adults with autism and disabilities can be so hard to buy for! This post was crowd sourced from my friends and from members of our Facebook Group and what I could pull from Twitter.

If you are buying a gift for autistic adults or a gift for an autistic teenager, here are many tried and true ideas. Keep in mind that many of these items will appeal to all kids, not just autistic teens or adults. Many families who sent suggestions have adults with Down Syndrome, intellectual or developmental disabilities and so on.

There’s nothing age-inappropriate about liking things.” If the teen or adult likes characters or toys that are geared toward younger kids, so what? If they like it, they like it. You can expose and introduce, but you cannot force a person of any age to like things they don’t like. If people have a problem with middle-aged me and my teen son liking Sesame Street, that’s their problem. Not mine.

Gift Ideas for Autistic Teenager

Last year, Yogibo was our splurge gift for Kevin. I am trying to buy one larger, more valuable and nicer gift, instead of a ton of inexpensive junk.

yogibo coupon code

This year, we are just in love with Yogibo. Honestly, someone uses a Yogibo product in our house, every day. We all just love the sensory input and comfort. They are amazing. Both boys have reading nooks in their bedrooms that includes a Yogibo. Our local Yogibo store also has Sensory Sundays for families to just come and hang out and enjoy the Yogibo before buying. So check your store, you might be able to try before you buy.

The other gift idea that I have that is a bit more spendy would be a light table. They don’t have to be babyish or toddlerish. It’s all about how you use it. You can now get transparent Lego-type bricks, Magformers and other accessories that are more mature.

TickiT Ultra Bright LED Light Panel - In Home Learning Supplies for Sensory Play - Adjustable Brightness - Color and Shape Exploration on a Light Box
143 Reviews
TickiT Ultra Bright LED Light Panel - In Home Learning Supplies for Sensory Play - Adjustable Brightness - Color and Shape Exploration on a Light Box
  • MULTIPLE BRIGHTNESS SETTINGS -- There are three light settings - bright, medium and dim - to enable the most appropriate light and color exploration.
  • ADULT-FRIENDLY -- Includes a handy lock feature which prevents the panel from being switched off unintentionally.
  • ILLUMINATE ART -- This LED panel is perfect for budding (or grown) artists! The adjustable lighting makes it great for drawing, stenciling and tracing. The lightweight design will make it easy to prop, pack and travel.
  • ROBUST DESIGN -- Lightweight, tough and portable, this light panel will survive the most enthusiastic children in the classroom or home.
  • STAYS COOL -- This LED light table top panel will keep cool during its lifespan of more than 50, 000 hours. That means even with 8 hours of constant use each day the panel would last more than 17 years.

On to the rest of the list.

Gift Ideas for Autistics Adults

1. ASK THEM. Many times, people are more alike than different. We may communicate differently and learn differently, but inside we all have likes, dislikes, and wishes. So whatever is hot and trendy with all teens, whether it be a book, movie, video game, music; chances are a teen with autism may enjoy it too. Just ask them. Like many other things, you can adapt. So if a girl wants to read the Twilight series but struggles with reading, get the book on CD or audio. Get a gift card for clothing at their favorite store or take them shopping.

2. Amazon Echo Dot-I am adding this new this year. I just heard from so many parents how this is a perfect gift for teens. And every holiday season, they offer one model for under $30! There are so many uses for this, especially in a special needs household. We use ours all the time.

Echo Dot (4th Gen) | Smart speaker with clock and Alexa | Twilight Blue
188,574 Reviews
Echo Dot (4th Gen) | Smart speaker with clock and Alexa | Twilight Blue
  • Meet Echo Dot with clock - Our most popular smart speaker with Alexa. The sleek, compact design delivers crisp vocals and balanced bass for full sound.
  • Perfect for your nightstand - See the time, alarms, and timers on the LED display. Tap the top to snooze an alarm.
  • Ready to help - Ask Alexa to tell a joke, play music, answer questions, play the news, check the weather, set alarms, and more.
  • Control your smart home - Use your voice to turn on lights, adjust thermostats, and lock doors with compatible devices.
  • Start Routines with your motion - Turn on compatible lights, play your Flash Briefing, or turn on the coffee maker when you walk into the room.

3. Fun Sensory stuff: How about a lava lamp, bubble lamp and those types of items. Now you can even get them as speakers with Bluetooth, to hook up to other items.

4. Clock that is a Phone Charger-I like this clock! We have one. And for many reasons, it is a great gift idea for teens with autism or other disabilities. First, it is a clock (duh!) and you can set multiple alarms on it. I like this for the kid who struggles with executive functioning skills such as time management in the morning. You can set one clock for a wake-up time, and another for “you should be out of the shower and dressed” time. Then, it’s also a charging dock. For the kid who likes to take his device to bed with him at night, no more struggles of where to keep it while they are sleeping.

Wooden Digital Alarm Clock with Wireless Charging, 3 Alarms LED Display, Sound Control and Snooze Dual for Bedroom, Bedside, Office (Black)
6,687 Reviews
Wooden Digital Alarm Clock with Wireless Charging, 3 Alarms LED Display, Sound Control and Snooze Dual for Bedroom, Bedside, Office (Black)
  • 【Wireless Charging】 - Support most universal Wireless Charging cellphone models. It provide convenience for you to place and charge your phone at the same time.
  • 【Dual plus Alarm Setting】- Updated in 2020 from dual alarms to three alarms. You can either set two or three alarms to better WAKE you up. One for you and the other for your families. Forever Say no to delay. Also, it allows you to set weekday mode, which will ring only on Monday to Friday
  • 【Stylish Wooden Design for Decor】- This must be the most delicate alarm clock you've ever seen. It's not only a clock, but also a great decoration for your bedroom. Stylish appearance and multiple functions make it suitable as a gifts for kids
  • 【Multiple Brightness Level Adjustable】- Allows you to adjust from low to high brightness, or even turn off the LED light and keep it sound sensitive. It's user friendly at night, which won't be too harsh for your eyes.
  • 【Power Cord Operated】- This clock is operated by USB to barrel power cord. ***NOT Batteries operated***

5. Age Appropriate Puzzles: Puzzles are so popular for all ages. And hey, some kids may still do the chunky wooden puzzles and that’s fine too. But there are things out there for all ages and abilities.

6. Another mom said that her autistic teenager loves to watch Sand Art.

7. Squeeze RelieverWe got one of these to try and we’re all loving it! Do you have a kid who just loves deep pressure and sensory of that sort? You put your hand into it and the compression massager massages to give your autistic teen the sensory input that they love. If you have an adult relative with autism who just loves sensory input on their hands, this is a great gift idea.

Daiwa Felicity Hand Massager Machine - FSA HSA Eligible rechargeable cordless carpal tunnel massager with 3 Auto Massage Nodes - Compression therapy assists arthritis pain relief - 15 minute off timer
611 Reviews
Daiwa Felicity Hand Massager Machine - FSA HSA Eligible rechargeable cordless carpal tunnel massager with 3 Auto Massage Nodes - Compression therapy assists arthritis pain relief - 15 minute off timer
  • Give Yourself a Hand... massage. Releases tension & cramping through the fingers & top of hand
  • FSA HSA Eligible Hand Massager - No more stress on your hands or your wallet
  • It's Getting Hot in Here - The optional heat therapy can reduce stiffness, swelling, & numbness
  • Don't Forget The Wrist - Open design lets you slide more of your hand into the massager to the wrist
  • POWER-ful long-lasting battery can recharge via the A/C adapter or with the USB cable and computer

8. Pokemon: New this year, Pokemon! A few moms saw this list and couldn’t believe that I didn’t have Pokemon on it. I’m told that Goo Jit Zu is the hot thing for some kids.

9. Personalized Krazy Straws-Personalized stuff is so hot right now. So how about a personalized Krazy Straw? They’re fun and inexpensive. And hey, if you have feeding issues, it just might make getting liquids in an easier task. All kids will love this, but I love the personalized aspect of it for kids with autism and just the fun factor.

10. Pinch Me Dough-Pinch Me Dough is a therapeutic putty or dough and it has lots of uses. From strengthening hands for fine motor tasks to reducing anxiety, having a fidget something or sensory input…makes a great stocking stuffer. This is a great gift idea for teens with autism. The aromatherapy aspect of the therapy dough makes it multi-sensory, which I love!

Pinch Me Therapy Dough - Holistic Aromatherapy Stress Relieving Putty - 10 Ounce… (Ocean)
939 Reviews
Pinch Me Therapy Dough - Holistic Aromatherapy Stress Relieving Putty - 10 Ounce… (Ocean)
  • OCEAN: Ah, the soothing aroma of the surf. A soft, tranquil scent that's sure to speak to your inner mermaid. Dip your fingers in the OCEAN and let the calming begin.
  • THERAPY DOUGH: Enhance your mood and relieve your stress with Pinch Me Therapy Dough, a squishable putty that channels relief through the senses with its aromatic scent, soft texture, and calm color.
  • HOLISTIC HELP: Refocus, rebalance, and restore with aroma treatment dough. As you knead, it will take the edge off and will act as a hand strengthener. Simply squeeze the dough and enjoy.
  • PLIABLE PEACE: Massage this pliant putty between your fingers and feel the stress fade away. With its malleable texture and naturally soothing scent, this dough is superior to any fidget toy or slime.
  • RELAXING REMEDY: This calming, sensory dough works as thinking putty and a stress reliever for adults. Use it for hand exercise, natural relaxation, and mood enhancing properties.

11. iTunes Gift Card-One of my mom-friends posted, “Give me gift ideas that are not iTunes gift cards!” So to that, yes, I hear you. Many times an iTunes gift card is an easy way out. Still, I heard from autism moms that they do always use them and that their kids love getting new apps and music. So it’s still a good gift idea for a teen with autism. Or any person, really. Just make sure that they have Apple products and not Android.

12. Driving Lessons-If a child is in special education, chances are they learn differently. If learning to drive is an option, then let’s make it happen. Call around and find a driving school so that they can get some extra instruction and practice. Teens with autism need extra practice and should be given the opportunity if driving is a reality.

driving lessons

13. Sound canceling headphonesIf a child has auditory processing disorder or other sound issues related to autism  (or even if they don’t!) they may struggle with discerning different sounds they hear in their natural environment. Or, as one mom suggested, her son just loves his music and loves the privacy and solitude of headphones. So invest in a good pair.

noise canceling headphones autism adhd anxiety
Click this photo to see the entire list of Noise Cancelling Headphones

14. Almanacs!-If you have a little details-oriented kiddo who just loves to read facts, figures, and statistics, consider an almanac type book.

15. Perplexus Perplexus is a game that came very highly recommended by several parents. One look and you’ll probably be able to tell if your child will like it or not. As you can see the box says Age 6 and up, but I never pay much attention to those. If they like it and can use it, get it.

16. Perplexus (again!)-What I like about Perplexus is that there are several variations of it, beginner and up.

Perplexus, Revolution Runner Motorized Motion 3D Gravity Maze Game Brain Teaser Fidget Toy Puzzle Ball, for Kids Ages 9 and up
1,430 Reviews
Perplexus, Revolution Runner Motorized Motion 3D Gravity Maze Game Brain Teaser Fidget Toy Puzzle Ball, for Kids Ages 9 and up
  • MOTORIZED, MOVING 3D MAZE: Perplexus Revolution Runner is a motorized, perpetually moving 3D puzzle ball. Twist, spin and turn to navigate the ball through the track and ever-changing obstacles to keep up with the maze’s movement without falling into the trench!
  • MULTI-PATH MAZE WITH OBSTACLES: Keep up with the Revolution Runner’s constant motion by navigating the ball through the multi-path maze! As the track inside moves, the obstacles are ever-changing for a constant challenge of agility and speed!
  • 4 SPEEDS TO MASTER: Perplexus Revolution Runner comes equipped with 4 different speeds! Master the first speed, then step up your difficulty level to faster speeds for even more thrilling, high-tension challenges through the labyrinth maze!
  • 3D BRAIN TEASER MAZE: Test your dexterity with this 3D puzzle. Portable size makes it the perfect travel game, fidget toy or take-anywhere puzzle for on-the-go fun. Makes a great gift for kids aged 9 and up. Requires 3 AA batteries (included). Twist it. Turn it. Beat it!
  • FUN FOR THE WHOLE FAMILY: Next time you get together with family and friends, bring along a Spin Master game. The perfect activity for memorable game nights, birthdays, dinner parties, vacations, holiday & Christmas gifts, and any time you just want to have fun!

17. Spaghetti Headz-I got to try these at a small trade show a few years ago. Spaghetti Headz are what you see below. They are made of clay and they go into a girl’s hair quite easily. I like them because I think many times our kids struggle to fit in socially and many times that includes the latest trends. I know that many girls with autism just could not sit still long enough for one of those hair wraps on the boardwalk. But they are very popular. This is an easier way to do it and it still looks very cool. I think teen girls with autism will find this an easier way to participate in some of the trends that their non-sensory-aversive peers are doing.

18. NetflixA subscription to Netflix is a great idea for a teen/tween. They have so much programming to offer for that age group.

19. Gift Cards- A great idea that allows them to practice independence. Maybe just a Visa card, or maybe to a specific place. But a gift card begins to teach budgeting, spending and independence in the community. Many parents said that their teens love getting gift cards and more importantly, love being invited out because many times they are left out of social outings by their family and friends.

20. Lee Jeans-I’m adding the Lee Jeans link for women’s jeans if there are any teen girls who are inching toward women’s sizes. The Easy Fit jeans are phenomenal. They are as comfortable as leggings or sweatpants, but they look like jeans. I think they are a great option for a  teen girl with autism who has sensory issues and dislikes regular jeans (and I would have to include myself in this category).

21. Audiobooks – A great idea for struggling readers.

22. Inexpensive tablets – These are a great idea for reading, games, videos, apps and so much more. And hello? The Fire is now under $50 when it’s on sale.

23. Photo books from ShutterflyThese are great for family members who do not live close. You can also find talking photo albums which are great because then the gift recipient can hear your voice whenever they want. If you don’t have time to set up a talking photo album before Christmas day, purchase it and work on the project together over the holidays. Along these same lines, you may want to look into digital photo frames, particularly if you do not live close to your gift recipient.

Talking Products, Deluxe Talking Photo Album, Voice Recordable with Over 2 Hours Recording Time, 20 Pages.
224 Reviews
Talking Products, Deluxe Talking Photo Album, Voice Recordable with Over 2 Hours Recording Time, 20 Pages.
  • Record a separate voice message on each page using the built-in microphone. Over 2 hours total recording time across the 20 pages, example 6 minutes per page. Re-record as many times as you wish.
  • Each of the 20 pages will hold a single 5x7 inch photo in a clear pocket, (125x175mm). Each page has an individual Play/Pause button.
  • Built-in speaker with volume control and an earphone socket for personal listening. Includes Lock switch to protect your precious recordings.
  • Internal flash memory will save and store your recordings. The built-in USB socket will enable you transfer your voice recordings to your computer. You can also transfer audio files from your computer to each page in the album.
  • Bring your memories back to life by adding a new dimension to your photographs. Create your own talking memory books and projects. A wonderful adoption gift. Also ideal for people with Dementia, Alzheimer's or Huntington's disease. Display family photos to reminisce and play daily reminders.

24. Pop It– Sensory “stuff” is not just for autistics, and not just for kids. Many people find it calming. The hottest trend this year is definitely the Pop It. And, they are addicting!

ZNNCO 3PCS Silicone Tie-dye Push pop Bubble Fidget Toy, Autism Special Needs Stress Reliever, Squeeze Sensory Tools to Relieve Emotional Stress for Kids Adults (Square)
4,043 Reviews
ZNNCO 3PCS Silicone Tie-dye Push pop Bubble Fidget Toy, Autism Special Needs Stress Reliever, Squeeze Sensory Tools to Relieve Emotional Stress for Kids Adults (Square)
  • 【Premium Quality】Silicone materials, will not cause any harm to humans and pets parents can rest assured, to buy for your children. popping fidget toy make with high quality silicone
  • 【Effectively Relieve Stress】This push bubble pop fidget toy has a quiet side and a loud side to pop. It can effectively relieve anxiety and stress and help restore mood. It is idea for people with autism, the ADHD, the elderly, children and adults who need to relieve stress
  • 【Game Instruction】Players take turns pressing as many as they want in a row. The player who presses the last mouse loses. It exercises the child's logic thinking ability, which is very interesting and inspiring
  • 【Portable perfect gift】This toy is a perfect gift for children. It can not only relieve stress, but also train children's basic mathematical knowledge. It is convenient to carry when traveling, and you can play in cars, airplanes, restaurants, camping, schools and offices anywhere. Can be reused and cleaned
  • 【Easy to Carry】 It’s about the size of an frozen waffle,Palm-size, easy to carry, does not occupy the bag space. It can be used for party, camp, school and many other places

25. ProjexProjex is a gaming system. But, unlike say an Xbox or PS5, it is affordable and much easier to use. And, it still feels like a modern gaming system and my boys have fun with it. It’s another way for my boys to interact, which isn’t always so easy given the differences in their skill sets.

This post was originally published in 2014 and is updated annually. Please let me know if you find broken links or cannot find an item. I am aware that the term is “special needs” is being phased out, sometimes I miss them when I am editing.

When you purchase items from Amazon from this site, I receive a small percentage at no additional cost to you. Thank you for supporting A Day in our Shoes.

  • Fine Motor Skills-Games, crafts and coloring activities are a great way to use and practice a child’s fine motor skills.
  • Speech and Language– Many parents seek out a language-rich environment for their child. Any activity can be an opportunity to use and repeat new words and language, mimicking sounds, new vocalizations and articulations.
  • Executive Functioning Skills– Depending on the game or activity, it can be an opportunity to practice executive functions such as working memory, sequencing, following directions, task initiation and more.
  • Handwriting and Fluency- This piggybacks onto the language skills a child needs, but with worksheets, coloring pages and games, they can be a low-risk opportunity to practice handwriting and fluency.
  • Practicing Previously Acquired Skills-Applying already acquired skills across all environments, bring the classroom teaching into the real world.
  • Sensory-Textures, sounds, taste, vestibular, interoception, anything!
  • Social Awareness-Practice traditional social skills in a safe environment, such as: joint attention, taking turns, reciprocating conversation, waiting politely, and more.
  • Gross Motor-If you’re in a new place, practice walking across uneven surfaces, new surfaces, inclines & declines, stairs, or increasing endurance.

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