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Autism Resources and Community (ARC)

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Choosing Meaningful Gifts for People on the Autism Spectrum

Angela Nelson, J.D., Ed.M. By Angela Nelson, J.D., Ed.M. | 4/29/14 9:56 AM | Early Childhood Education | 1 Comments

These days nearly everyone knows a friend or family member who is touched by autism. Perhaps it’s your own child or your sister’s child. Perhaps it’s the child of your neighbor, your dentist, your mail carrier, or hair dresser.

With the holidays fast approaching, you may be asking yourself: are there any gifts for people on the autism spectrum that are both meaningful and appropriate? 

Autism is a complex developmental disorder that affects a family in many ways.  It can be emotionally draining, demanding on time, and challenging for relationships… but, perhaps above all, autism is expensive! Rather than a scented candle or a box of golf balls, consider selecting gifts that will support your friend or family member’s efforts to teach their special child.

If you are a parent of a child with autism looking for a gift for your child’s teacher, consider giving educational tools and toys that he or she can use in the classroom. Teachers spend so much of their own money on supplies; they would certainly welcome a box of language cards or a set of manipulative puzzles over a crystal apple or another box of chocolates!


Children with autism face special challenges when it comes to learning through play.  Some educational toys that help most children are not always appropriate for a child with autism. Perhaps the best thing you can give to that child are tools to help develop language and skills to help them play with their siblings and peers in the future.

An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” ~Benjamin Franklin

Best wishes for a happy holiday and a new year filled with growing, learning and thriving.

Interested in ways to blend hands-on and digital learning around the holidays? Check out part 4 of our Blending Hands-on and Digital Learning series. 

To find great gifts for children and families affected by autism, click this link:

Shop Autism Education Products

Angela Nelson, J.D., Ed.M. Angela Nelson received her BA and JD from UCLA where she studied and practiced behavior psychology under Dr. Ivar Lovaas, and her Ed.M. at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, with a focus on technology innovation and education. As Founder and CEO of Stages Learning Materials, Angela has created autism, special needs and early childhood curriculum products since 1997. In addition to her duties at Stages, Angela writes for multiple industry publications and is on the board of the Education Market Association. In her spare time, Angela makes a mean ginger scallion sauce, and attempts to adjust to non-LA weather.

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