In honor of my 100th blog post, I thought I'd channel my inner Oprah Winfrey and make a "Mama Fry's Favorite Things" list. I had a great day dream going in my head that I would loudly announce, "You get a fidget! And you get a fidget!! Everyone in the audience gets fidgets!!!" and all these sullen looking interns dressed up like elves come out and just hand you all this stuff. Everybody would be jumping up and down and the kids would be flapping and it would be awesome.
Then I remembered I'm not Oprah and more importantly, I do not have Oprah money. Sorry fries. The only thing I could give away is various expired coupons I forget to use and old ATM receipts from my wallet. Quite a few folks follow this blog. While they don't have kids with autism, they know someone that does. They want to get them a nice holiday gift and they are kind of scratching their heads on what to give. Hell, some parents reading this are probably thinking this same. So here's a list of the top winners at French Fry Inc and the places you can get them. Kiddo tested and approved! (Disclaimer, these opinions are my own. I was provided samples or had previously bought the items of each to review)
1) CHEWIGEM "Dog Tags" style necklace $19.95 For those who need to chew for sensory input and self calming. I love these things. The site itself has lots of options, styles and colors. Even bracelets too. Stylish to look just like an accessory but made from non-toxic silicone. The necklace even has a breakaway clasp for safety. Easy to clean by hand or toss it in the top rack of the dishwasher. A perfect stocking stuffer. Get them here at http://www.chewigemusa.com/collections/dog-tags
2) ROCKIN' ROCKER BOARD from Fun and Function $69.95 This is the sturdiest rocker balance board I have ever seen! I ought to know, the kiddo has broken quite of few by throwing them. This thing is solidly made. Doesn't take up a lot of room. Easy to wipe down to clean. Use it standing, sitting or kneeling. This board is great for working on balance and motor planning. When I first took it out of the box he immediately started playing with it. Winner Winner!! Get them here at http://funandfunction.com/rockin-rockertm-board.html
3) SPACE EXPLORER Body Sock from Fun and Function starting at $32.99 Need a great sensory toy that's great for travel? This is the toy! Super for motor planning and perfect for those kids who are MAJOR sensory seekers. If your kiddo is like mine, this is really great for the input they are craving. Folds up easy for a suitcase and is machine washable because let's face it, life is messy. Comes in a variety of sizes and colors. Now animals prints too!! Get it here at http://funandfunction.com/space-explorers.html
4) EXERCISE BALL by Natural Fitness at Target $24.99 Got a kiddo just seems to be bouncing off the walls? Give them a place to bounce! Trampolines are great but many are made only for little kids. This ball was a weight capacity of up to 300 pounds. Trust me, my kiddo has given this ball a solid test over the past two years. Still going very strong. Inflates in minutes. Good for when they need to just get out of some cabin fever energy or just chilling on it watching TV. Great for balance and working on flexibility. They do come in many sizes and I got mine in Target itself one day. Order them online at http://www.target.com/p/natural-fitness-300-lb-burst-resistant-exercise-ball-55cm-plum/-/A-10988471#prodSlot=medium_1_9&term=exersize+ball
5) BEAN BAG from The Bean Bag prices vary according to size and material. After a long day of school and therapy, the kiddo's favorite way to relax is to flop in his bean bag and watch some TV or chill out with an iPad game or ten. :-) If he's having a hard time and I can see he is craving some deep pressure input, I'll put this on top of him. They are cozy as can be. This company is great but really there are so many stores that carry them. When in doubt, go for the biggest size. Kids grow over night and it's better for it to be to big than to small. Check them out here at http://www.thebeanbagchairoutlet.com/
6) WEIGHTED BLANKET by SensaCalm prices vary according to size and materials. This is a very helpful item for a tired autism family. Weighted blankets are a natural way to provide calming sensory input throughout the night for your child so they can sleep. Bonus part, you then can sleep!! The kiddo's grandparents bought him one last Christmas and we love it. Check out the web site here at http://www.sensacalm.com/
7) HAND MINI MASSAGER by HoMedics $5.81 Another great on the go item for sensory input. I think we have about four of these floating around the house. Handy for Mom and Dad too after a long day of work. Get them here at http://www.walmart.com/ip/HoMedics-Thera-P-Handheld-Personal-Mini-Massager-Blue/17176523
8) CRYSTAL SQUEEZE BEAD BALL by Flaghouse $6.95 Sometimes you just got to wiggle, move, fidget or just do something with your hands. Small enough to go in a pocket or be tossed in the great big old mom purse you carry around.
One other piece advice I want to share with you all. If you have parents asking for what you think is kind of odd/quirky/weird to you stuff, just get it. Don't question it. They know their kid best. If they say they need a pink fuzzy pair of bunny slippers for their son, you get them! It's not about you. It's about making that kid happy. So if you get a request for a warehouse size box of Goldfish crackers or a sleeve of red Solo plastic cups, wrap it up. You're going to make that kid so stinking happy! Some of these web sites and companies will be completely new to you but poke around on them. They have some great options and other suggestion that also could be hits. Besides, you got birthdays to think about as well!
Now pardon me while I go make up my wish list, I'm hopping Santa puts Benedict Cumberbatch and a bottle of Champagne under my tree. Or my husband and a box of wine. That'll work too. :-)