10 Inexpensive Gift Ideas for Toddlers on the Autism Spectrum

Do you have all your Christmas and Holiday shopping done? Well if you’re like me, the answer is… “no.”

Between wondering when the Amazon orders will arrive, and hoping that Amazon magically picked out the perfect gift for my “impossible to find a perfect gift” person, you (like me) may need to head out for some last-minute shopping.

If one of those people you need to shop for happen to be a toddler with autism (henceforth “Ausome”), but you don’t want to break the bank buying more gifts, then this is for you!

Shopping for any Ausome person may be tricky since ausome kids tend to play with different types of things. But fear not, dear reader, for behold, here is list of 10 things Ausome kids will love and play with.

  1. Koosh Ball

    Yes, this thing is pretty inexpensive, but my Jojobee loves it. It is easy to take in the car, take to bed, take to pretty much anywhere. They can get lost easily so you might want to buy a few. They retail at Amazon for about $15 for a 3-pack.

  2. Duplo Blocks

    These are actually a little more than I initially thought (They run about $20 at any department store) but your ausome child will love the ability to stack and build with these with the added benefit that you can stack these much higher than traditional building blocks, and they are super-colorful. Lots of fun for those visual sensory-seekers out there! Just don’t step on them barefoot. 😉

  3. Sensory Bin

    Jojo will play with this for hours. HOURS, you guys. You can get the beans from any grocery store. They retail at Walmart for about $10 for an 8lbs bag. If your ausome child doesn’t already have a sensory bin, this is a must-have.

  4. Paint Set

    So Jojo has been painting for almost a year. We went through an entire ream of construction paper in less than 2 weeks. He loves everything about it (He even likes the taste!)… just be careful not to let him eat too much. It’s not toxic, but he can still get an upset tummy by it. Plus as an added bonus, the bottles of paint stack nicely for some extra fun when you don’t want to actually open the paint but you still want to let your ausome kid play with them. They go for like $5 at Target.

  5. Sidewalk Chalk

    Like the paint, sidewalk chalk can provide hours of entertainment. You can use them outside if weather permits or inside on butcher paper if it’s too cold or rainy. They wash off easily. You can get a set of 126 for like $13 at Walmart.

  6. Marble Run

    This was a bit of a gamble for us. The recomended age for this is 7 I think so I wasn’t sure how a 3-year-old would do with this. Turns out he does GREAT. It does require adult supervision to put together and it has a dozen small marbles so this may not be the toy for your ausome child, especially if they have an oral fixation. Otherwise, this is also a great tool to use to teach requests (we do “ready, set, go” to drop them down the ramp).

    This will run you about $30 at Target.

  7. Poker Chips

    No Really. There are a lot in a set. Your ausome child can stack them, organize them, herd them, and there are different colors to use! You can also use playing cards. Jojo loves to gather all the playing cards up together and throw them all into the air (like making it rain playing cards). And then he will rinse and repeat.

    Prices on these will range from around $5 all the way to hundreds of dollars depending on the quality of poker chips.

  8. Sprinkles

    I don’t know what it is about this particular bottle of Sprinkles, but Jonah LOVE to carry this around. He likes to look at all the little tiny sprinkles in there over and over again. You can also use a plain old water bottle with some glitter in it. Same effect. Mezmorized.

    They are usually less than $5 at any grocery store.

  9. A Greeting Card with Sound

    There are tons of greeting cards out there that sing and some that vibrate and have moving features. Not all Ausome kiddos will enjoy these, but as far as gifts go, a little noisemaking card can go a long ways.

    Just be mindful of the battery life. The only problem with these is that when the battery dies, you will have to either replace it or get another one. Actually, you may just want to buy all of the row of same card. That’s not really very cost effective is it?

    Actually, you know what? Forget this one. I’m picturing the meltdown when the batteries in all the cards die. (not pretty)


  10. This Thing!

    Yep. I don’t know what this is called, and I threw away the box. (Super-helpful I know.)  But it’s basically a rotating prism light that you would use at a high school dance party or in your dorm room. The pattern it casts is like a neon swimming-pool.

    This is very soothing for visual sensory-seekers at bed-time. But, again, if you use it at night, be wary of the battery life.

    This one was like $5 at Wal-greens, but you can probably find similar lights at any department store.

That’s it for now.

Does your Ausome kiddo have a favorite toy? Do you know of a good inexpensive Christmas present I left off? Feel free to sound off in the comments! 

And in case I don’t see ya,

Jason Reynolds
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Jason Reynolds

Jason is a freelance photographer and graphic designer. He is also a parent of Jonny (9) and Jonah (4) who was diagnosed with Autism in December 2016.
Jason Reynolds
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