Specific Christmas Gift Ideas for 3 Yr Old on the Spectrum

Updated on October 23, 2010
B.C. asks from Carterville, MO
17 answers

Often times kids on the spectrum can have an almost obsessive love with something in particular...my sons love is for "letters" as in the alphabet...we have magnetic letters of all sizes, we have many alphabet books, we have several alphabet dvds...I am looking for suggestions for Christmas, do you know of a favorite alphabet book that we cannot live without? A specific dvd that is super cute? I have looked at kid versions of "computers" that are educational toys...they say ages 5 and up, I hate to go that route and have it be totally useless to him, but then again he has been site recognizing letters since he was 2. I am really worried about coming up with ideas as the other thing he really likes is stuffed animals and we have those coming out our ears!!! I was considering the Super Why board game, but the reviews said it was definitely geared toward "readers" and we are definitely not to that point yet.
Thanks in advance...really hoping to get some great ideas = )

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answers from St. Louis on

Try the Here Come the ABCs CD and DVD by They Might Be Giants. Great songs, fun videos. My husband and I bought them both before we even thought about having kids!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

Melissa & Doug make a great Alphabet Train Puzzle...it's a floor puzzle and the pieces are nice and thick. Also, Leap Frog and Word World make letter/word DVD--my kids like them.

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answers from Dallas on

I have some experience with kids on the spectrum, but it is very limited...so my ideas may not work for your circumstances, but I'll throw them out there.

My son got his Clickstart computer at 3. The mouse was a little tricky for him at first, but that was the only roadblock. He was able to play his computer independently pretty quickly. Just some food for thought.

What about alphabet floor puzzles? My son had two at that age he loved. He couldn't put them together by himself for a little while, but we had a great time doing it together. There are also many alphabet wooden puzzles available too. We bought some a MIchael's you can color yourself.

Melissa and Doug make wooden alphabet letters. They are bright colored and include upper and lower case letters, if he just likes to manipulate the letters.

Alphabet cookie cutters and play dough.

Alphabet building blocks

Foam bath letters.

Alphabet silly bands.

Stamps with letters

Fisher Price has an ABC zoo. It's a Little People Set.

Leapfrog Alphabet Caterpillar Pal (I think that's what it's called. My daughter has a purple one. You push the feet and it tells you the letter or the sound the letter makes)

Both my kids adored the Leapfrog Learn and Groove drum. Every time you hit it, the top lights up with a letter. It takes you through the whole alphabet.

I decorated the nursey using Graeme Base's Animalia. So maybe we are biased, but we love that ABC book. You can take a sneak peek of it on amazon.com if you aren't familiar with it already. And some added trivia...Graeme Base hid pictures of himself on each page...he's wearing an orange striped shirt and blue jeans. My kids love looking for him. (On the Alligator page they show on amazon, you can see his jeans and shirt behind the tree.) We are also big fans of Mathew Van Fleet, His books are very tactile. Lots of textures to touch. I think he also has an alphabet book out.

The Leapfrog Letter Factory is a good Dvd about letters.


1 mom found this helpful


answers from Topeka on

The leapfrog phonics bus - my letter-addicted grandson loved his - the new one out is different, but sounds like is does the same things.
Phonics Bus
by Leap Frog

For ages 6 months - 3 years

View "Phonics Bus" at Amazon
This little bus is one of those LeapFrog toys that just plain works. It speaks toddler-ese with clearly spoken words and sounds and catchy little tunes, and it's a cute little yellow bus with a kid-sized handle on top. What's not to love? Your littlest preschooler can cart it around the house, pushing all the individual letter buttons to hear (depending on the mode selected) the name of the letter, the sound the letter makes or a song associated with that letter. There are removable LeapFrog characters in the seats of the bus, and the little wheels actually roll along, playing three different versions of "Wheels on the Bus." Which means that when it's stuck in your head in the middle of the night, you'll have three different versions to cycle through as you drift back to sleep.. But never mind, the point is that your little one will love it. And if the alphabet song is running through his or her head in the middle of the night, just think how lucky you are. (Note: The Alphabet Pal caterpillar and the Letter Factory Fridge Magnets from LeapFrog are other similar toys, although not quite as grab-able as the little yellow bus.)

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

We love Leapfrog Letter Factory DVD, available for about 9.99. It is fun and my 2 year old learned the sounds letters make after 3 viewings! We also love bathtub letters...foam/plastic colored letters that stick to the side of the tub (and also get carried around in dump trucks and Halloween baskets at our house :) )

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Wichita on

we have this cool thing for the fridge, a leap frog word whammer, where it will tell you what letters to put in to spell words, or let you spell words yourself. My daughter loves it.

She also loves the leap frog dvds, with Tad the turtle. One of hers is about letters.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Hi B.,

I sell Discovery Toys and we have a couple of really fun new games this fall that focus on letters and basic phonics, both intended for ages 3+. In addition, Discovery Toys has a full autism guide, so I can help you choose other products that can help your son with certain areas you want to develop and/or choose things that best suit his learning style, skills, and interests.

You can view all of my toys here: http://www.discoverytoyslink.com/karenchao

The ones I specifically recommend for your son now are:

Letter Fun Lotto: (Bingo style game, but also options to play different ways than traditional bingo) http://www.discoverytoyslink.com/esuite/control/product?P...

Short Vowel Fun: (an Uno or Crazy 8's style game with words instead of numbers. I've played it and it is a lot of fun. I'm buying it for my own 3 year old this holiday season) http://www.discoverytoyslink.com/esuite/control/product?P...

ABSeas (go fishing for upper- and lowercase letters and try to match them to the pieces on your game board): http://www.discoverytoyslink.com/esuite/control/product?P...

These next two are a little trickier, but your son may still enjoy them. Each is a series of two-piece puzzles, where one half of the puzzle has a picture and the other half has the written word (in English, Spanish and French):

First Words:http://www.discoverytoyslink.com/esuite/control/product?P...

Colors and Shapes:http://www.discoverytoyslink.com/esuite/control/product?P...

If you want any more info about the toys or about our autism guide, please send me a private message so I can help you out.

http://www.discoverytoyslink.com/karenchao - got kids? I've got toys! Make your holiday shopping easy by choosing Discovery Toys.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

I have a son and two grandchildren on the spectrum. All three of them are smarter than any other people I know. My 4y/o grandson has Aspurgers (sp), he was diagnosed before they decided not to use that term. He went to his grandpa's computer, he had never seen it before, woke it up, looked at the short-cuts on the startup screen and yelled games. then he clicked on hp games, looked through the list and found Dora and began to play all completely by himself. He apparently ahas some reading skill.
Anyway I am telling you this to suggest that just because it says 5 and above it might be perfectly acceptable to your son. Does he learn things rapidly? If so this might be just right for him. I admit my grandson will be five in March but he is very smart. The age statement is a guideline. Some.children who are five may not be able to use it yet. Others maybe able to use it earlier. I haven't met your son so I don't know. but normally you can tell how smart a child is.

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answers from Las Vegas on

You've gotten some really great suggestions on alphabet books and toys from the first two posters but I wanted to suggest maybe getting him something that will encourage him to be more interactive with those around him and maybe help him branch out on his interests a little more. Here's some suggestions on some non-ABC toys that may help him with his social and communication skills:

Musical Instrument Toys
Ants in the Pants
Don't Spill the Beans
Gator Golf
Boggle Jr.
Disney Bingo
Wacky Ducky Ring Toss
Fishing and Bug Catching Magnetic Game/Puzzle
Honey Bee Tree
Monkeying Around
Poppa's Pizza Pile Up
Toy Planes, Trains and Automobiles
Dress Up Clothes
Wooden Puzzles
Plastic Ball

It's always nice to give a gift that you know that the child really, really wants but I suspect that he probably has a lot of ABC books and gifts already. And he'll probably be receiving a lot of alphabet themed gifts for his birthday as well. The toys that I listed above are toys that we incorporated into our son's in-home ABA program that really helped him to diversify is interests, get used to interacting with other people, learn turn taking and, if you play it right, teach emotions.

Just something for you to consider...


answers from Jacksonville on

My daughter has one of those big foam alphabet puzzles. All of the pieces are approx. 12''x12'' and they fit together to make a playmat or hopscotch or whatever the user imagines. We have lots of fun, learn, and get some exercise too when we play with it.



answers from Columbia on

My 4-year-old son is on the autism spectrum. I like to shop at schoolzone.com for workbooks, flashcards, and software. They make some really good stuff that focuses on the alphabet that are both educational and fun. We have all of the preschool age flashcards that they offer. My 2-year-old son loves them too. My boys will play with them in a variety of ways - they play 'slapjack' so whoever hits the card I lay down first gets to answer, they match similar pictures (dog & bone or bird & nest, etc.), or match uppercase and lowercase letters. The workbooks are good too but my son hates handwriting so I just have him point to things. I just placed an order for the software - they make one called 'Alphabet Express' and it is for ages 3 - 5. Hope this helps - I know how hard it can be to buy for a child on the spectrum. When they are obsessed with one thing, you can feel like you already own everything in the world pertaining to his favorite thing.



answers from Kansas City on

We just got a set of Melissa and Doug stacking/nesting alphabet blocks that are a big hit around here! Also, we have a foam ABC puzzle that my daughter loves. It's in a little tray and when you pick up the letters there is a picture underneath that is associated with that letter. We got it as a gift, but probably some sort educational store or website would have something similar. I also was going to suggest Chicka Chicka Boom Boom....way cute!


answers from Chicago on

Have you heard of Barefoot Books yet? They are beautifully illustrated and well- written and have NO licensed characters like Sponge Bob etc. Just great, colorful picture books for kids of all ages. I've heard from several people that children with autism respond to them, much more than other books. Check them out. I sell them because I fell in love with them, and my son loves them too. The Sing-A-Longs like Animal Boogie, We All Go Traveling By, and Driving My Tractor are a few of our faves. I also love Listen, Listen for the illustrations, as well as the seek-and-find in Skip Through the Seasons and Hidden Hippo. :) www.ReadandGrow.com There's free shipping on orders over $60 right now.

Barefoot Books Ambassador


answers from Hartford on

Chika Chika Boom Boom - book, audio, and/or video. My son is 6 and on the spectrum and this has been a long time favorite because the letters come to life.



answers from Kansas City on

As for DVD's.... my kids loved the Leapfrog "Letter Factory" and there are other ones for Leapfrog too but can't remember the names. It is a really cute dvd and is great for learning letters and their sounds but in a super fun way.



answers from Columbus on


I have one ont he spectrum that was into the letters too. She is 18 now, and I do not know if it is still avaliable, but we had a leap frog item with removable plastic letters, and when she put them into the right spot, it said the sound and the name of the letter, and she could move them together to make words, I do not remember what it was called, but the letters looked like the fridge magnets. She loved it.

Dr. Sueses ABC-123 was her fave, I am sure you have that! We could not get past the cover...she could point to the letters and call them for hours.

You might look at a site like Super Duper, an OT site and see if they have things you could use. Maybe even investing in Handwriting without Tears, and getting started on this early would be good. Many of our kids have trouble with motor planning, and learning how to write the letters properly from the start could be a wonderful thing. It has a chaulk board, and letter block pieces that fit together to form the letters properly, then they learn to write the "parts" in the right order, hard to describe, but it comes with instructions. He may like this while you have the intense interest, he can learn something that will serve him well in the future!




answers from Springfield on

My 3yo son has also had a love affair with letters for almost 2 years now. He loves the foam bath letters that stick to the sides of the tub, they keep him entertained until "pruning" commences. lol He also really likes the WordWorld show on PBS and has a couple of the DVDs. He would watch them over and over if I would let him.

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