I love the holidays, I love the Christmas lights, the smells of Christmas trees, the cold weather, and of course the gifts.

This year I put together a guide on what gifts might benefit your child as well as yourself, and talk about how you might use them together to enjoy the most important gift: your time together.

Toys:

1.Marble and Block building set. If you have ever seen one of Dr.Sheely’s webinars you know that she uses this toy a lot. It is amazing for Joint play. The point of the set is to make a sort of Rube Goldberg device where you can place one marble at the top of the structure and it will eventually go through a series of small marble sized holes and planks of wood to reach the end. It can be as intricate or as simple as you wish. To use it together, take turns placing the planks of wood and testing the marble fluidity.

2. Zoom Ball: Dr.Sheely recently went on a trip to Cuba to talk about RDI and one of the few things she took with her was this amazing toy. The Zoom Ball is a soft football placed in between two different sets of handles, each person holds one side of the handles and opens their hands wide to send the zoom ball to the other side. One objective you can practice with your child is speed matching, if you send it one speed, they match the same speed, you send it slow , they send it slow and so on.Once the activity is going, the child can start to do some of the regulation as turn taking is applied.

3. Puzzles. Puzzles are really versatile, they can incorporate turn taking and shared experience. One example of a simple activity is taking turns working on the puzzle. You can also decide to do a custom photo puzzle of a happy experience with your family, and have a memory sharing encounter.Here is a really nice simple puzzle, and something more complex

 4. I feel like this is a give in but Legos. You can pretty much use them in the same concept as the marbles and blocks game. You can also build together and create shared experiences through creating and then playing with your creations.

5. A lava lamp. A little unexpected, but some children on the spectrum find it very calming.

6. A Construction Plate and Utensils. If you have a picky eater, you might want to try this awesome set.  Playing with a new food is a way to build familiarity and decrease mealtime anxiety.Try your hand and play too! Show your child that you are enjoying the food and the experience. Here is a set for your little gardner too!

Art Supplies:

1. Great art materials. I know that many parents think the cheaper the better, but from my experience as an art teacher, I have noticed that good art supplies actually will increase interest as it places a higher value on what they create. Quality art materials also can create a better art piece which can raise self esteem. How to use them together: After opening the present, you can sit down and explain that these are materials that professional artists use, you can tell them about respecting and taking care of their brushes, paints, etc. You can use the supplies together while painting side by side, following a tutorial online,and then talk about the process together.Some nice, but not too expensive brands are, Prismacolor, Winsor and Newton, Reeves, and Grumbacher.

2. Coloring books. Adult coloring books are all the rage and very therapeutic especially for older children and adults.They can be a source of relaxation and pattern inducing meditation.  If you are feeling creative you can even put together your own book by printing out free Mandala coloring pages here www.printmandala.com and for the cat lover 

3. An easel. There are many different easels that you can purchase ranging from stand alone to table-top easels .The importance of an easel is setting up a designated painting or drawing space. It can help focus hand eye coordination and alignment. They can also be used to display the art once it is finished.

A special thanks to Nikki Turner for giving me the idea for the article!

I would love to hear your holiday gift ideas in the comments section!

-Esther Tell

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