DISASTER-PROOF PRESENTS FOR AUTISTIC TEENS
Teenagers can be your harshest critic when it comes to gift giving. Not only are they impulsive and unpredictable with their wants and preferences, they can also be downright frank in saying that they don’t like or appreciate the present given to them at all. The challenge of making a teenager happy and grateful through the present you’re planning to give may even become more difficult if they are diagnosed with ASD. Those who are in the spectrum cannot just appreciate every special gift that’s given to them no matter how expensive or captivating it is to look at. If their sensory sensitivity is triggered by the present or if they become overwhelmed by the “surprise factor” of the contents of the gift, what could have been a memorable unwrapping moment can easily turn into a fit of autism meltdown. Knowing that a teenager’s emotions are heightened by hormonal activities, these outbursts can last for a very long time and become very hard to deal with. Some people easily get discouraged with the thought of presenting a gift to an autistic teen, but there’s actually less reason to be worried about the aftermath if you are conscious enough with your choices of gift items. Here are a few safe approaches to choose from.
Gaming Gift Cards
If the recipient of the present is an autistic teen who is socially withdrawn and likes to spend their time in their house, you can go for gaming gift cards. Autistic teens who are less athletic or physically active typically find entertainment in playing video games. Most online video games are designed to become more socially welcoming and less stressful even for those on the spectrum. Autistic teens can feel more comfortable chatting with people whom they don’t personally know when most conversation elements such as facial expressions and gestures are removed. Aside from better avenues to socialize, video games can also be very informative and educational with the right content and material. However, when choosing the gaming gift cards to give, it is important that you also have an idea as to the types of video games the teen likes to play, to avoid wasting your effort and money as well as their expectations.
Activities and Events
Aside from material objects, you can also give the autistic teen a present that creates an experience. Your gift may be in a form of activities or events that the teen can enjoy together with you or another person close to them. You can buy them tickets to their anticipated movie, set up a date to visit the museum or zoo, bring them to a concert or convention, or register for summer camp and join in similar programs. This can help strengthen their social bond with other people and boost their self-confidence with the right kind of environment and companionship.
Autism-friendly Clothes and Accessories
Today, the number of physical stores and online shops that sell clothing and accessories tailored for autistic people has increased. You can now find a dozen of brands that showcase seamless clothing, with unique designs that eliminate the use of buttons, zippers, tags, lace and similar other typical clothing features that create distractions and sensory issues for autistic persons. Just like their neurotypical counterparts, autistic teenagers can easily appreciate fashionable gifts if they fit their taste or preference. Be sure to know what you’re looking for and not just randomly order autism-friendly clothes online or buy anything autism-designed in physical stores.
Aside from clothes that reduce sensory stimuli and distraction, there are also apparels and accessories that provide deep pressure sensation, vibration, and other sensory needs for autistic teens that are sensory seekers in nature. These products also come in fashionable designs and forms that most autistic teens will surely love. Related to apparels and accessories are other calming tools such as weighted blankets, noise-cancelling headphones, and fashionable shades that are also useful for autistic teens.
Communication and Safety Tools
As teens undergo changes in their physical makeup, emotional and mental maturity, so are their life needs in the aspects of communication and personal safety. More exposure to outside social elements such as their school can present new challenges to communication and threats to security. If the teen has been using gadgets and tools that are useful in providing personal identification and location, such as cellular phone, picture cards, and name tags, it would be nice to give them an upgraded version of these tools. You can give them more sleek ID’s and cards with an updated picture of them, fashionable tags and tracking device that look like jewellery, and a newer model of a tablet or phone with useful applications.
One of the most pressing issues that autistic teens must deal with as they transition to another phase of their life is keeping a healthy personal hygiene. While it is the duty of the parents to educate their autistic teens about the importance of maintaining good personal hygiene, other people can assist in addressing this issue by providing the family and the teen with valuable tips and useful hygiene products that are recommended by others in the community. If you are planning to wrap one or two hygiene products for an autistic teen, go for those that are not strong-smelling and don’t provide discomforting sensation when applied to the body. As much as possible, do not pick products that have menthol flavour, gluten-free and casein-free. A complete set of essential grooming kit will prove helpful in training the autistic teen to become more responsible and conscious with their own hygiene, and how they appear and smell to other people.
It certainly is a tough job to wrap a gift for an autistic teen but it is not impossible to achieve. All you have to do is to be resourceful with your choices, and knowledgeable enough about the nature of autism. When everything turns out just right, the autistic teen will have nothing but appreciation and a great sense of gratitude to you.