Sensory Gifts for The Holidays

With the holiday season in full swing, many families will begin their seasonal purchases, including buying children’s gifts. While the hottest toys may be on your radar, if you have an exceptional child, you may want to consider purchasing items that not only are they excited to open Christmas morning but that also serve to fill some of your child’s unique sensory needs. These items can then be used to create a Sensory Space within your home.

A sensory space is an area of your home that you specifically create to fill your exceptional child’s sensory needs. A sensory space can help your child with self-regulation and reduction in meltdowns. In this space, you’ll want to include items that provide sensory input in areas such as sight, touch, sound, and movement.

It is important to note that each child has different sensory needs. Some children are sensory seekers and may crave input, such as jumping and spinning. Other children may be sensory avoiders and want a more calming and quiet atmosphere. Some children may also be sensory seekers and sensory avoiders depending on their environment, mood, or type of sensory input.

Another great way to decide which sensory items to select for your child is to ask them probing questions such as, “Do you like to climb? Do you like bear hugs? Do you like to feel gooey things?” It is all about getting to know your child on a deeper level by observing them and asking them what type of sensory input they prefer.

Sensory Gift Ideas for Sensory Seekers

  • Indoor Trampoline
  • Light Table
  • Sit and Spin
  • Play-Doh
  • Indoor Swing or Hammock
  • Scooterboard
  • Crash Pad
  • Vibrating Toothbrush
  • Chewelry
  • Kinetic Sand
  • Stress Balls
  • Scented Markers
  • Musical Instruments

Sensory Gifts Ideas for Sensory Avoiders

  • Egg Chair
  • Body Sock
  • Lava Lamp
  • LED lights
  • Sound Machine
  • Noise Cancelling Headphones
  • Weighted Blanket
  • Tagless Clothing
  • Indoor Teepee
  • Sunglasses
  • Compression Vest
  • Bed Tent

Selecting the right sensory items for your child can give them the necessary sensory input their bodies crave. If you need additional help in choosing your child’s sensory items, as well as designing and creating a sensory area within your home that specifically addresses your child’s individual sensory needs, contact Wendy Valente of Designing Interiors for Autism.

Wendy, an interior designer and parent of a child with ASD and ADHD, helps families select sensory items for their child and create a designated sensory area within their home. Wendy also offers additional services such as bedroom design for children with sensory needs up to full-service interior design for any area of your home.

You can contact Wendy on her website at or join her free Facebook Group for excellent support and ideas at “Designing Interiors for Autism.” You can also check out my interview with Wendy on the Big Abilities podcast for more information about her and the services she offers to families of children with exceptional needs.

“Designing Interiors for Autism is not just about getting things that are for sensory spaces etc. It’s deeper than that. It’s about you learning all the things that make your child unique and facilitating their needs with the perfect item, understanding how color, clutter, lighting, textures, and layout all play an important role in creating a space exactly for the activity and the person using the space. Doing this allows for better behaviors, better outcomes, and self-regulation.”

-Wendy Valente

If you have any questions or concerns, please reach out to us. You can contact Amy Nielsen via email at or on our website at

Amy Nielsen
Creator/Owner of Big Abilities Blog and Podcast
Panelist and Parent Advocate

Published by

Amy Nielsen

Amy Nielsen is a former children's librarian of nearly twenty years. She now spends most of her time obsessively pounding on a keyboard. She is the author of It Takes a Village: How to Build a Support System for Your Exceptional Needs Family, Goldilocks and the Three Bears: Understanding Autism Spectrum Disorder. Her upcoming YA Worth it debuts in May of 2024. She is also a freelance writer for The Autism Helper. When she's not writing, she and her family are most likely crusing the waters of Tampa Bay.