The Top 10 Gifts Your Autistic Teen Will Love This Year

Gifts Your Autistic Teen

Choosing a gift for an autistic teenager in your life can seem challenging, but it is important to show them that you care. This guide will provide gift ideas that are specifically tailored to autistic teenagers, with the goals of increasing comfort, enhancing special interests, and supporting healthy development.

Finding a gift that reduces sensory overload, accommodates special routines, or allows creative expression can make a big difference in an autistic teen’s well-being. Though each individual is different, there are some traits many autistic teenagers share that you can keep in mind while shopping. The ideal gift will help the teen decompress, engage in calming activities, and pursue their unique passions. Most importantly, your gift shows that you want to understand and celebrate their neurodiversity.


Sensory Items

Many autistic teens enjoy sensory items that provide calming pressure, texture, or stimulation. Popular options include:

Weighted blankets – These heavy blankets apply gentle, evenly distributed pressure that can have a calming effect. The weight helps the body relax while making the teen feel comforted and secure. Look for options around 10-15 pounds.

Compression vests – Worn under clothing, these vests gently hug and squeeze the upper body to provide comforting pressure. This creates a calming proprioceptive input. Ensure you get the right size and weight for the teen’s needs and comfort level.

Fidget toys – Small toys like fidget spinners and stress balls allow the teen to channel nervous energy. The tactile stimulation can be regulating and calming. Opt for toys with interesting textures, buttons, and clickers.

Chewelry – Necklaces or bracelets with chewable pendants provide oral stimulation. The chewing motion is self-soothing. Choose 100% silicone accessories that are BPA and latex-free. Get different shapes and textures to keep it interesting.

Aromatherapy – Scented lotions, soaps, candles, and diffusers with calming essential oils like lavender can have a regulating effect. Make sure the teen likes the specific scent before buying large quantities.


Fidget Toys

Fidget toys can be enormously beneficial for autistic teens who need occupational therapy items to focus on. Having something in hand to fidget with can help them pay attention, while also providing a calming, repetitive motion.[1] Various types of fidget toys make great gift ideas:

  • Fidget cubes have multiple sides with buttons, switches, and other gadgets that provide sensory stimulation through touch. They offer a variety of textures, sounds, and movements to keep hands occupied. Popular options are the ANSO Anxiety Fidget Cube and the CAXMAN Fidget Cube.

  • Fidget spinners became a huge fad a few years ago, and they continue to be a worthwhile option for autistic teens today. Spinners with ball bearings allow smooth, continuous spinning to soothe restlessness. Some light up with LEDs or make light noise. The Hand2mind Fidget Spinners are excellent for focus.

  • Tangle toys like the Tangle Relax Therapy are rubbery strands twisted into a ball that can bend, twist, and flex for calming stimulation. They come in various textures and colors, providing a quiet fidget outlet. Tangles help develop fine motor skills and relieve stress.

Fidget toys provide endless ways for autistic teens to keep their hands engaged during tasks that require concentration and sitting still. Choose options with textures and features that suit the individual’s sensory preferences.


Noise-Cancelling Headphones

Noise-canceling headphones can be an excellent gift for an autistic teen who struggles with sensory overload. Many autistic individuals are hypersensitive to sound, so ambient noise like classroom chatter, traffic, or the hum of fluorescent lights can quickly become overwhelming.

Noise-canceling headphones help by dramatically reducing the amount of outside noise that reaches the ears. They use digital signal processing to actively cancel out background noise by generating an opposite sound wave. This creates a peaceful, muffled environment that can help autistic teens filter out audio distractions.

Leading noise-cancelling headphone brands like Bose and Sony offer high-tech models tailored for noise reduction and sensory sensitivity. Look for cushy, comfortable headphones that completely cover the ears. Allow the autistic teen to demo different styles to find the best audio isolation and fit for them. Many autistic teens find the sensory relief from noise-canceling headphones improves their ability to focus, engage socially, and manage anxiety.


Art Supplies

Artistic expression can be very therapeutic for autistic teens. Giving them art supplies encourages creativity and provides an outlet for expressing emotions. Some great art gift ideas include:

Sketchpads – Look for ones with heavy paper that won’t tear easily. Spiral-bound sketchbooks allow the pages to lay flat while drawing. Hardbound sketchbooks keep work protected. Go for a larger 9×12 size so they have plenty of room to draw.

Colored pencils – Pick high-quality pencils with rich, vibrant color payoff. Look for sets with a wide color range. Sets that include some watercolor pencils add variety to the types of art they can create. Sets that come in a case keep all the pencils organized.

Paint sets – Acrylic paint is a good choice for beginners as it is forgiving and dries quickly. Look for sets that have the basic colors plus some fun shades like metallic or neon. Include some quality paintbrushes in various sizes. Canvases or a pad of thick watercolor paper give them something to paint on.

Supplying an autistic teen with professional-grade art supplies shows them you support their artistic talents. It gives them a constructive hobby to engage in that can have therapeutic benefits. Nurturing their creativity produces a positive outlet for self-expression.


Tech Gadgets

Teenagers with autism often find technology engaging and enjoyable. Tech gadgets that provide stimulation, entertainment, and learning can make great gifts.

Tablets like the iPad are popular options, with endless apps and programs to explore. Educational and creative apps allow for learning and self-expression. Tablets are also portable and adjustable – features that autistic teens appreciate. Look for rubber cases to protect against dropping.

Digital cameras encourage creativity and provide focus. Select automatic point-and-shoot models that are easy to use but still allow for manual settings as skills develop. Sturdy kid-friendly cameras withstand active use.

Video game systems offer interactive fun and social connections online. Opt for consoles like Nintendo Switch with bright, stimulating games. Extra controllers permit playing together. Wireless headphones reduce sensory overload from sound effects.

Calming Activities

Gifts that provide calming sensory input can be great options for an autistic teen. Weighted blankets use deep pressure to produce a calming effect and relieve anxiety. Choose one with glass beads or plastic pellets that evenly distribute the weight. Pick a weight between 5-10% of their body weight.

Lavender pillows are another calming option. The soothing lavender scent has relaxing properties. Look for pillows stuffed with dried lavender or a lavender-infused filling. Using lavender oils or sprays on bedding can also help create a relaxing sleep environment.

Puzzles engage an autistic teen’s focus while providing a calming, methodical activity. Choose puzzles with their preferred picture or theme and an appropriate challenge level. Opt for puzzles with fewer pieces (100-500) if they tend to get overwhelmed or frustrated easily. Puzzles help improve logic, spatial skills, and problem-solving in an independent, self-paced activity.



Books that tap into a teen’s special interests or graphic novels with engaging stories are great gift ideas. Look for books about topics they obsess over and enjoy reading about repetitively. Some autistic teens may prefer fantasy novels, science fiction books, or manga books with intricate artwork. See if any new releases in a series they love have come out recently too.

Graphic novels with vibrant illustrations can capture an autistic teen’s attention better than dense text alone. Consider gifting graphic novel series like Dog Man, Amulet, Smile, Drama, El Deafo, or the Calvin and Hobbes collection. Visually-driven stories allow them to follow along and comprehend the narrative more easily. The visuals draw them into the book for a fully immersive reading experience.

Gifting books aligned with an autistic teen’s special interest shows you understand their personality and what stimulates their mind. It provides an outlet for them to dive deeper into subjects they’re intrinsically motivated to master. Books also supply endless hours of entertainment when they need downtime from social interactions.


Self-Care Items

Teenagers on the autism spectrum can benefit greatly from self-care items that provide sensory input and promote relaxation. These types of gifts can help manage stress and anxiety.

Fidget bracelets

Fidget bracelets made of stretchy or tactile materials can provide subtle sensory input through twirling, twisting, and rubbing. Popular options are chewy silicone bracelets and those with various beads, patterns, and textures. These bracelets give hands something to do and can be worn discreetly.

Chewing necklaces

For teens who need oral stimulation, chewing necklaces are an ideal option. Made of food-grade silicone, these necklaces have pendants that are safe to chew on. The act of chewing provides calming input. Necklaces come in various colors and shapes, like animals or simple geometric pendants.

Cozy socks

Socks made of soft, warm materials like fleece or wool make for great sensory-friendly gifts. The comfort of cozy socks helps create a calming environment. Look for socks without irritating seams on the toes. Compression socks can also provide soothing pressure. Fun, colorful patterns, and textures add visual interest and sensory input.

Gift Cards

Gift cards can be an excellent gift idea for an autistic teenager, as they allow the recipient to pick out a gift related to a special interest. Consider giving gift cards to stores, restaurants, experiences, or online retailers that align with the teen’s particular passions.

Some examples:

  • For a teen who loves video games, gift cards to GameStop, Steam, Nintendo eShop, or other gaming platforms give them money to use towards new games and accessories.

  • An avid reader would appreciate gift cards to bookstores, Amazon, Audible, or other book retailers.

  • Give movie theater gift cards for film buffs or live theater/concert cards for art lovers.

  • If they are into fashion, try cards for clothing stores or online shops.

  • Experience gift cards for restaurants, escape rooms, museums, theme parks, or other fun local attractions are great for teens who like trying new activities.

  • Coffee shop gift cards can appeal to a teen who loves the social atmosphere or unique drinks.

Consider the teen’s personality and interests, then select retailers that offer gift cards matching their preferences. Gift cards provide autonomy to get something they genuinely want rather than guessing at a gift. They’re flexible too – if the teen’s interests change, they can redeem the card towards something new. Overall, gift cards are a thoughtful option that empowers an autistic teen to choose their perfect gift.

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