Relabeled high-functioning autism in the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, Asperger’s syndrome is an autism spectrum disorder. Like all autism spectrum disorders, Asperger’s is highly individualized. In general, however, teens with Asperger’s syndrome are intelligent and creative, but have difficulties interacting with the world around them. When choosing gifts, take into account the teen’s individual interests and special needs.
1. Special Interests
Most teens with Asperger’s have one or more areas of special interest in which they display an almost encyclopedic level of knowledge. These interests are as diverse as dinosaurs, model trains, female scientists and computer technology. Your teenager might stay with a single interest for a period of time and then develop a new interest, which might or might not be related to the first. Spend some time observing your teen to determine his current obsession, and then buy or make a gift that relates to that interest. Science shops and high-end toy stores provide a wide range of items for virtually any special interest.
2. Textural Considerations
Many people with Asperger’s syndrome have sensory integration difficulties, which sometimes manifest in discomfort with certain textures. Clothing, handheld items and food products might trigger your teenager’s sensory issues. Many Asperger’s teens also have a strong affinity for particular textures that make them feel comforted, such as furry stuffed animals or smooth stones. Consider your teen’s individual sensory issues when buying gifts.
3. Lights and Music
Some teens with Asperger’s syndrome are comforted by repetitive patterns of light or sound. Others have sensory difficulties with certain types or patterns of light and sound. Some are comforted by repetitive patterns but annoyed or frightened by unpredictable patterns. Lava lamps, plasma lights, rain sticks and disco balls are just a few options that are readily available at party and gift stores.
4. Gift Cards
Gift cards are an easy and popular go-to gift item for teens and adults. They allow the recipient to purchase something that is personally meaningful to him. If your Asperger’s teen has narrow interests and a rigid definition of what makes a good gift, and he is comfortable with shopping, a gift card might be the best choice. Some teens with Asperger’s intensely dislike the shopping experience, from the lights and background music to the crowds and the necessity of interacting with strangers. If your teen is uncomfortable with shopping, give him gift cards to online retailers or make the effort to select a suitable gift.
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