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Gift ideas for 14 year old autistic girl?
childlike_faith wrote in parenting101

I know it's a long shot, but any suggestions on gift ideas for a 14 year old, autistic girl? My SIL's birthday is tomorrow and my husband and I are at a total loss. I feel like buying an actual gift for any 14 year old girl is hard, then you add in the fact that she's (severely) autistic and it gets even harder.

She loves swimming and the water, but has a pool, sprinkler/outdoor water toys, doesn't care for rafts/noodles/googles and has swim suits and towels galore.
She likes music but has headphone and her own cd player/cds.
She likes getting her nails painted but we have bought her nail polish on many birthdays.
She also likes to bounce (has a trampoline and exercise ball).
Otherwise, she's a teenage girl.

I'm seriously lost. Help?

ETA: Gift cards (other than maybe some "experience" ones) are out because she is not able to communicate what she wants nor does she really have any idea of what's out there. She has the personality of a 14 year old girl (as in attitude and sassiness) but the ability of a nonverbal/not potty trained 3 or 4 year old (based only on my observations). This is what makes it so hard!


What about an iTunes Music Store gift card or gift certificate to Amazon? Then she can buy the music she likes and doesn't have already.

Or Barnes and Noble if you prefer brick and mortar stores.

The problem with that is that she can't communicate what she actually wants, so we like to get her physical gifts instead of gift cards. :(

I see, please pardon me if any ideas I toss out here won't work, I have limited experience with autism. You and your SIL know her best, I'm just gonna try and brainstorm based on the list you provided. :)

Pampering:
Lotions/foot scrubs/bath stuff
Makeup and a book on how to apply makeup
A case for her nail polish
Manicure kit

Outdoors:
hula hoop
jump rope
pogo stick


Music:
Ask SIL if there are favorite bands, get a poster? Or if there are new bands that she doesn't have yet and get a CD. Like if she perks up while listening to the radio.

Those are good ideas, just a lot of them aren't options just based on her ability/skill level. Like I said, she's nonverbal so she can't say that she wants anything. While she has the personality of a 14 year old girl, her skill level/ability level I've estimated to be that of a three or four year old. (Again, just based on my observations, nothing more)
I do like the idea of the manicure kit though! Thank you for your suggestions! :)

What are her interests? Work off of that. Does she read? Does she have an iPad that you can load with a bunch of cool apps?
What about physical CDs or DVDs?
I have an autistic 9 yo, he is high-functioning but he definitely has it's own quirky interests. Lots of autists do! Ask her parents what she enjoys doing?


Her interests are basically what I listed above and then add in Taco Bell, Pepsi and pasta. Ha ha.
I WISH she had an iPad, I think she'd thrive with one, but unfortunately, she doesn't.
And I'd love to get her some physical cds, but I know her parents are pretty quick to get any music for her so I'm sure she's up to date on things there, and she doesn't have an attention span for DVDs, or at least I've never seen/heard of her watching one.
Also, we have a pretty good idea of what she's into just because I see her daily and usually watch her during her summer break each year. Plus, her mom has a hard time shopping for her too, so I don't know that she'll be much help. :)
I promise, I'm not trying to be difficult and shoot down everything, I swear! :)

what about a manicure instead of just nail polish?

was going to suggest this, too.
given that she can actually handle a trip to a manicurist.
even better: Shellac. as a bonus, it will last longer :)

Colored pencils or watercolors with a pad of nice paper?

So, not knowing her ability level, why not take her out for a day instead of give her a physical gift? I'm thinking manicure, movie, and lunch at a place she likes.

That's actually a really good idea! Or at the very least, gift cards for such a thing. Like I said above, we don't normally like getting her gift cards, but "experience" ones are different. Thanks!

To expand on that idea, you could actually get mock-up tickets or real ones, most theaters have gift cards, and put a "day out" package together, popcorn, Dots or other movie candy, some big tickets in a popcorn bucket. Target has them & they're very inexpensive.
If you're also doing a manicure, same thing. Get one polish in a bright, interesting color and put it in the same bucket with a "gift certificate" to take her out. Or a real one for her mom to take her.

You can really do this kind of thing with lots of different gift cards.

Does she have access to a gaming system like the wii or ps where she could use a game like dance party where she can incorporate both music and bounce?

She does, but she doesn't have the ability to operate it. Good thought though!

She doesn't really have the attention span for a movie or dvd. She's SO hard to buy for! Thanks for the suggestion though!

The difficulty with a gift card is that she can't really say she wants to go anywhere or buy anything inparticular. I'd say (based only on my observations) that while she has the personality of a 14 year old (as in attitude and such), she has the ability of a (nonverbal/not potty trained) 3 or 4 year old.
Thanks for the idea though!

This sounds really frustrating. Her parents must know what she enjoys doing and what she responds to. Every person has interests. Sometimes it's difficult to crack the code.

I'd buy her pretty clothes and hair accessories.

I'm considering clothes and would love to do some hair accessories, but she FLIPS just having her hair brushed. Clothes are definitely always a good option though. Thanks!

Does she have a favorite band or artist? Maybe a t-shirt or other gear related to that.

Not knowing where you are or if you have anything local; what about a zoo membership or if you have any kind of kids attraction, here we have Fairy Tale town which is designed for the under 7 crowd, but enjoyed by many older kids (and adults) with autism.

Hmm how about craft stuff, maybe the large bead type make your own jewelry. </p>

A kitten ... Ok kidding there, but it's what my 4 year old said your sil would want.


I was going to also suggest something like this (zoo, fairy tale town) or local places like that!

Two ideas for you, based off of experience with my severely autistic, non-verbal brother.

Does she like textures? Koosh-type toys have been popular with my brother. Or shirts or blankets that were velvety or silky.

On the music angle - my brother is not allowed to take his headphones to bed. So one item that he liked was a 'sleep sheep' stuffed animal meant for babies that plays ocean/rain/heartbeat/whale sounds to fall asleep to.

I was going to sort of say something like this - fidgets. I have had several students in my classroom who are on the spectrum and all have craved sensory stimulation. My Little Pony's and Troll Dolls can go over well because of the mane and hair, respectively.


Silly Bands bracelets?

this! anything that is interesting to hold or stretchy would be great. my son is high functioning, but he loves anything he can fidget with. a necklace with with large beads with different textures would be nice.

How much are you looking to spend? An Android-based tablet would be an amazing gift if it's in your budget - it could run many AAC apps, which would then give her the ability to communicate. (My daughter has CP - so that's different, yes, but she can't speak very well and uses an AAC device. That's where I'm coming from. Also last night I went to see Temple Grandin speak so I'm sort of...fired up about everything. ;) )

I know she has a hard time telling you what she wants, but on a very basic level could she choose between two things? You could hold out two CDs, for example, and let her keep the one she grabs and return the other. Or you could write two words on two different pieces of paper and let her pick one.

Or maybe some sort of sensory item? A blanket with a really soft edge? Something she can chew on? A large board book with lots of bright pictures in it?

I would love to see Temple Grandin speak, that is awesome!

What about getting her a spa day mani pedi type thing and do it with her?

Entrance fee to a bounce house place? Like pump it up or big air. We also have a local place that's just trampolines everywhere.

Does she like to swing? Maybe one of those hammock chairs/swings for outside? Or a swinging cushion chair for her room (if that's a possibility). My friend (who works with autistic teens/adults) suggested one of these for my son, who loves to swing.

Here is the link my friend sent me: http://www.amazon.com/Ekorre-Swing-hanging-hammock-outdoor/dp/B002XPNMFU/ref=sr_1_11?ie=UTF8&qid=1371777772&sr=8-11&keywords=Swing+chair</p>

Or what about a lava lamp? If she likes water, she might like a lava lamp! Heck, who doesn't like lava lamps!


My brother was severely autistic/nonverbal. My dad screwed a hook into a joist in the ceiling and suspended a rope type swing chair from it for him. He loooooved it. He spent a lot of time in there. If course, he was younger at the time, so weight limitations might make it not feasible.

My first thought was a bunch of art supplies, if she's a fan of them and has the ability. My 6 year old loves the crayola colored pencils you can twist up, those seem cooler for a pre-teen. Paper, coloring books, stickers, etc. Fun for any age :)

If she wears jewelry, maybe some fun stuff from Claire's. I also like the band t-shirt idea, or any new clothes really.

Might be out of your intended price range, but how about an Mp3 player? She can convert all her cds into mp3s with help, and download new songs as they come out.

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