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Living with Autism

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March 10, 2012

Practical Gifts for Severely-Autistic Individuals

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                               Practical Gifts for Severely-Autistic Individuals


A lot of people don’t know what gifts to give a severely-autistic person for special occasions, such as Christmas or Birthdays. Here are a few practical ideas.

For Autistic Individuals with Epilepsy:

  1. Fish Oils. A good brand is Carlson. Other brands are good too, but here’s Carlson link. Carlson Labs. ...
    fully potent and free of detrimental levels of mercury, cadmium, lead, PCB's:

    www.carlsonlabs.com/p-70-very-finest-fish-oil-lemon-flavor.aspx
  2. L-Taurine.  
     Research shows L-Taurine is a safe, effective adjunct to conventional medications in most people with epilepsy. You can find this in any health food store. The dose is supposed to be 3 capsules a day, in divided doses, total of 1500 mg. Source:
    http://www.drlera.com/epilepsy.htm
  3. Protective Helmet or Headgear. This may seem an odd gift, but when an autistic person has increased seizure activity, it’s a great thing to have at home, school or Day Programs. Do Internet search under: Protective Head Gear and look under “IMAGES” in search to see what styles and colors are available. Remember, you can buy headgear from martial arts stores and even sport’s stores, so long as they are what will assist in the protection and safety of the autistic person in mind.
  4. Floor Mats. For kids: Do Internet search under: “Alphabet and Number Floor Mat.” For Teens or Adults look for something more sturdy. Do Internet Search under: “Folding Gym Mat” or “Tumbling Mats.” Look under “Images” so you can SEE what they look like. *
 * I place padded floor mat on wall of my autistic son’s bed, tucked behind bed, pushed up against wall. It acts as a noise buffer and protective cover in event he had a seizure or was self-abusing, he won’t hit hard wall. It’s also good to have mats inside bathrooms, to avoid falls on hard flooring or tile. I bought mats at Garden Area of Home Depot and put 3 of them in bathroom. They’re waterproof and provide protection in event of fall.
5. Music. Buy a Mozart CD or tape. Listening to Mozart’s piano concertos for eight minutes a day can reduce the frequency of seizures in young epilepsy patients by 30 percent, showed a study by Kaohsiung Medical University (KMU). www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1525505011002800

For Autistic Individuals with Self-Injurious Behavior or other Behavioral Challenges:


  1. Protective gear. See above. Also, boxing helmets that cover ears. ALSO consider protective gear for arms, legs, hands. You can find this stuff at any sport’s store or ON-LINE by searching and analyzing different types of protective gear available. Martial art’s stores seem to have a lot of excellent choices.

  1. Arm Compression sleeves. Many autistics with self-injurious behavior are tactically defensive. Arm compression sleeves may help. http://tulane.edu/asvpr/upload/Barrett-LL.pdf. You can find more information about this: www.abledata.com/abledata.cfm?pageid=113582&orgid=109562. You can FIND arm compression sleeves at sport’s stores or ON-LINE by searching under “arm compression sleeves.” I have used this and it does seem to help calm our son during times of increased self-abusive behaviors. Best applied the second the behavior starts to increase, as once it starts, it may become rapid, obsessive-compulsive behavior and it can be hard to get on sleeves at this point. It does NOT restrict movement, but offers sensory support. Mitigating sensory dysfunction is one key element in reducing self-injury in autistic person.  TEMPLE GRANDIN, Ph.D. ... deep pressure applied by foam-padded splints[or some type of compression] on arms reduced self-injurious behavior and self-stimulation in an autistic child.
    www.grandin.com/inc/squeeze.html

  1. Leg Compression sleeves. Same therapeutic reasons as noted above. Great for autistics who walk a lot and may have pain or soreness in legs. Any discomfort, soreness or pain is a known trigger to self-injurious behaviors in autism.

  1. Cooling Vests/Cold Therapy. Here’s what one occupational therapist says about cooling vest for special needs persons with self-injurious or aggressive behaviors: Kool Max cooling vest has helped reduce frequency and intensity of self injurious and aggressive behaviors in adults with developmental disabilities I serve. The cooling vest has helped prevent people from escalating into 'Fight or Flight' mode in the adults with developmental disabilities... The cooling vest makes bus rides to work in the summer much more bearable and has cut down on self injurious and aggressive behaviors in the adults with developmental disabilities I serve." Source: http://www.polarsoftice.com/testimonials.html.  You can find products to buy here: http://www.polarsoftice.com/bodycoolingsystems.html. What I like about cooling vests is they may double as a weighted vest, which provides additional sensory support to autistic individual. Polar Products seems a reliable, good place to buy quality product. Drug stores also carry cold packs, but don’t always have ones you need. Also consider:  Many autistic individuals with behavioral challenges tighten their muscles. So theoretically, neck or cervical spine can become tight and painful.
     Providing cold therapy seems safe and effective. A great practical gift.
  2. Weighted Blankets.  Research shows weighted blankets provide sensory support for children and adults with autism. We have two weighted blankets that do HELP calm our autistic son if he begins to punch self. Please note you NEVER, EVER cover a child’s head with a weighted blanket. It’s meant to go up to shoulders. I seldom see warnings about this on any site selling these blankets.  To find the same durable, colorful blanket we use: http://www.mansionathletics.com/vinyl-weighted-blanket-w41177-sensory-integration-weighted-blankets.html?channelid=Google%20Products

6.    First Aid Kit.  A basic first aid kit is helpful to have around for minor cuts. Over the years, I have noticed my son, along with other severely-autistic children and adults have frequent cuts and abrasions on their legs, arms and hands. This is because they may fall to knees on the ground during a meltdown, bite self or scrape into things. A basic first aid kit, which includes many Band-Aids and Anti-biotic Ointment, is a thoughtful, practical gift. Find them on-line by searching under “basic first aid kits.” Drugs stores also carry kits.

  1. Therapeutic Swing. Of course, you wouldn’t give this gift to the autistic individual who likes to throw things or turn things upside down. Or maybe it would help. Just things to consider. Every autistic has his or her own personality traits. Search under: “cuddle swings autism” or “swings for autism.” Occupational Therapist sites can give ideas, as well, as they use swings for vestibular therapy.


Other Gifts to Consider

1.      Offer to baby-sit or provide respite care night out for parents.
2.    Provide gift card so school, program or the parents can purchase what they need for autistic individual.
3.    Clothing. Pick out stylish, quality, comfortable clothing. Put together an outfit. Search under: natural, tagless, seamless clothing. Also GAP, Hanes and other major brand stores offer this type of clothing.

3 comments:

Autism Mom said...

Excellent list and thank you for the links!

Hanes Brand said...

list is great, it really helps me to figure out what to gift for my autistic friend.

Carol N Wong said...

I need some more ideas for my severely autistic brother who is 59.

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