Group gift ideas that are inclusive of a blind and autistic 6 year old
November 28, 2021 6:07 AM   Subscribe

I have some family members that I always get a joint Christmas present because they have a large family and they foster, so you can never be sure you're not going to be leaving someone out if you get everyone individual presents. I try to go for something that's inexpensive but inclusive.

I have some family members that I always get a joint Christmas present because they have a large family and they foster, so you can never be sure you're not going to be leaving someone out if you get everyone individual presents (or if someone wishes they had a present that someone else received). I try to go for something that's inexpensive but inclusive. This year one of their kids is a 6 year old who is blind and has autism. She has recently started communicating/interacting, whereas before she was more in her own world and really only seemed to respond positively to music.

I was going to get everyone coloring books and crayons/colored pencils/markers...but this seems like it really wouldn't be inclusive of the 6 year old. That's along the lines of what I'm looking for cost-wise though, something that would cost around $50 for the whole family.

Music seems like a good direction to go, but I don't want to get cheap plastic toys that make noises that are grating to the adults in the house. She's also interested in textures. If she finds one she likes, she will carry the object around. It seems like the object is comforting to her, it's hard to tell what she will like though. So far I've seen her carry a (very specific, this one only!) piece of paper, a hair elastic and a blanket.

At the moment there are 2 other girls there that are 8 and 4, but it's possible a boy or someone older will end up being there on Christmas. (I will include snacks as an additional family present, so hopefully that would help fill in the gap for an older kid). The other 2 girls seem to really like crafts and stuffed animals.

I really appreciate any ideas anyone has!
posted by Eyelash to Human Relations (15 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: There are craft sets for kids that come with things like feathers, pom poms, pipe cleaners, and various textures of paper. You can also DIY one of these pretty easily and probably cheaper by hitting up the clearance stacks at a Michael's or Jo Ann (especially the scrapbooking paper section). The kids who want to do visual art can do visual art, and the kid who's into tactile stuff will have plenty to choose from.
posted by phunniemee at 6:16 AM on November 28, 2021 [13 favorites]

Best answer: Kinetic sand
posted by needs more cowbell at 6:18 AM on November 28, 2021 [10 favorites]

Kinetic Sand is a great idea. I thought of Popits and other fidget toys - some specific types are listed here: Thinking putty is also very fun (like silly putty but a bit nicer quality and there are lots of textures, colors, and features).
posted by leastlikelycowgirl at 7:02 AM on November 28, 2021

posted by teamnap at 7:16 AM on November 28, 2021

Modeling clay? (Or play doh. I always had modeling clay. Mom had studied child development and insisted clay was better for building fine muscle control in your hands.)
posted by Green Eyed Monster at 7:45 AM on November 28, 2021

A polymer clay kit? There are several on Amazon. I bought one for my 3, 6, 9, and 12 yr old grandkids and they make things together when they're all over here. The tactile aspect of it might appeal to all of the kids in your family's household.

Another thing the kids have enjoyed is a an old fashioned potholder loom, but only one can use it at a time.

Dolls with removable clothes for each of them? Something they'll each be able to take with them if they move on to other homes. Stuffed animals? A special super soft blanket or decorated pillow for each?

Kids like to play together but they also like to have things that are especially their own.
posted by mareli at 7:52 AM on November 28, 2021 [1 favorite]

a big fluffy cuddly blanket for use in the living room? the state of the art in soft blankets is pretty awesome right now.
posted by fingersandtoes at 8:39 AM on November 28, 2021 [1 favorite]

If the parents were amenable and had space, a huge fluffy teddy that could sit on the floor in the corner of the living room? Old kids could use it as a seat/beanbag, the other girls like cuddly toys, the 6 year old might like the softness.

Could also then remain for all future kids to come and enjoy.

Or yeah, individual stuffed toys to give them something of their own, might be less popular with older kids but they might secretly like a cuddly of their own too, especially if it came bearing snacks.
posted by penguin pie at 8:50 AM on November 28, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Kinetic Sand for a large family, playing indoors (if it's cold during the winter where they live), will mean kinetic sand gets everywhere. They might have a nice setup to contain the cleaning chaos, but Lil'WedgedPiano likes flipping containers of the stuff and spreading it everywhere.

Modeling clay / Playdoh is easier to contain and clean, in my opinion, and still provides that sensory stimulation. Other things that might work that have easier cleanup could be bubbles and accompanying toys, food-dyed shaving cream / finger painting for bathtime, or sensory slap bracelets for the family. might also give you some ideas for what's out there, too.
posted by WedgedPiano at 8:51 AM on November 28, 2021 [3 favorites]

A few of the record shops I know now offer a record-a-month subscription. It's a nice sensory experience, and you get exposed to music you might not otherwise know.
posted by cocoagirl at 9:50 AM on November 28, 2021

Best answer: Perhaps a marble run? Building structures seems craft-adjacent, and the sounds of the balls moving through the track are as pleasing if not more so than the visuals, in my opinion. I wouldn't go for anything too fiddly if anyone has fine motor control challenges, but there are certainly nice sturdy options that fit together solidly.
posted by teremala at 10:40 AM on November 28, 2021

Best answer: A sensory bin is nice, it is a bin with some kind of substrate -- sand, beads, shredded paper, dried beans, dry rice, pompoms -- and then different toys to play with the substrate, manipulate it, etc. Sometimes they're focused on building things. Other times you hide a variety of toys with different textures inside the substrate. Make sure you have scooping and pouring toys included. Kids will spent hours playing with it just to feel the textures with their hands and to dig and scoop. It's really soothing! Very popular with kids with autism.

You can make your own quite inexpensively.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 11:04 AM on November 28, 2021 [1 favorite]

Some sort of magnetic tile (or other building block) set. A play tent or fort building kit. Play silks (also DIYalbe). Cookie / gingerbread house decorating kit. A gym mat. Wikki stix.
posted by oceano at 11:38 AM on November 28, 2021

B-toys Symphony is an amazing toy. They're pricey ($75) but check Facebook Marketplace and you can often find them for $20-40.
posted by nouvelle-personne at 2:08 PM on November 28, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: FYI on kinetic sand- it will get everywhere, and it can make floors extremely slippery. This would probably be extra hazardous for a blind child, who might not be able to catch herself as well as a sighted child.
A sensory bin with rice is a great idea, and if you put it together in a bin yourself, you can add small toys for them to find that could also get used outside of it- matchbox cars, small pop-it toys, etc.
posted by Adridne at 6:09 AM on November 29, 2021 [2 favorites]

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