Father’s Day Gifts for Autism Dads and Autistic Dads
Men are notoriously hard to buy for. While lots of guys will tell friends and family not to get them anything for birthdays and keep their requests simple for Christmas, Father’s Day presents its own kind of challenge. When Dad or kids or both are autistic, Father’s Day becomes even more loaded.
Just for clarification, an autism dad is an NT father of at least one child on the spectrum and an autistic dad is an autistic father whose kids may or may not be on the spectrum. Both dads do their best for their kids and wonder if they’re doing the right things. They all deserve something more than a “World’s Greatest Dad” coffee mug or a tie for Father’s Day, and I have some ideas to help you find the perfect gift for the autism dad or autistic dad in your life.
For Autism Dads
Books by autistic authors
One of the biggest challenges for autism dads is finding ways to understand and connect with their autistic kids. Books by autistic authors can go a long way to helping dads with this. John Elder Robison’s memoir Look Me in the Eye is a great insight into the autistic/Aspie mind, and his book Raising Cubby tells the story of raising his son with matching diagnoses. Nerdy, Shy, and Socially Inappropriate by Cynthia Kim is another good insider’s understanding of autism and how we’re affected in all aspects of our lives. Perhaps the best resource, though, is The Real Experts: Readings for Parents of Autistic Children, a collection of writings by autistic adults that gives real insight into what it’s like to grow up autistic.
If the autism dad in your life is all about advocacy, he’s sure to appreciate some swag. Instead of looking to Autism Speaks, which doesn’t do much for autistic people, check out the Autistic Self Advocacy Network’s CafePress shop, where you can find several patterns on everything from phone cases and pajamas to license plate frames and travel tumblers and lots more (yes, even coffee mugs). You can also check out the Autism Society of America for lapel pins and car magnets.
If there’s an activity that the whole family can enjoy together, that can be the greatest Father’s Day gift, especially if an autistic child has a lot of limitations. It might be an outing to the park or an interactive museum, or maybe just playing in the backyard. Even something as simple as playing a board game or putting a puzzle together can be special bonding time for an autism dad and child.
For Autistic Dads
Something related to his special interest
The autistic dad in your life is bound to have some special interests – pretty much all autistic people do. A gift related to one of those interests shows that you know him, you value him, and you accept him as he is. If he has a favorite author or musician, the new release or a hard-to-find work is a great gift idea. Is he a collector? Find out what he’s missing – that last baseball card, that one obscure comic, that unusual rock – and he’ll be delighted to receive it.
If your autistic dad loves fidgeting, chewing, or other forms of stimming, stim tools can make great gifts, too. Autistic people stim to regulate our brains and keep ourselves calm. Often, stimming helps us concentrate. Stimtastic is an autistic-owned company that makes all kinds of stim tools from fidgets to weighted tactile stims to chewy pencil toppers to save your dad’s pens and his teeth! Best of all, Stimtastic’s products are super affordable. If Dad needs something less conspicuous, check out these ideas for work-safe stimming.
What does your dad really love to do? More than likely, an autistic dad has some favorite hobbies, even if he doesn’t have a lot of time for them. Perhaps he loves building models? Get him a new kit and some paint and do it together or give him the space and time to do it himself. For the dad who’s all about craft beer, a brewing kit could be a big hit. For a gardener or cook, maybe a grow-your-own mushroom or herb setup.
For All Dads
I recommend these for all people and all occasions, I just think they’re a great gift! Fruit arrangements are pretty, tasty, shareable, and clutter-free once they’re eaten. Make sure you take any food allergies or texture issues into account, and you can’t go wrong (in my opinion).
The Art of Manliness
Personally, I would buy this for any guy I know. The Art of Manliness book is full of skills every man should know, like how to raise resilient children, how to give a good speech, basic survival skills, and social skills, too. For an autistic dad, this book can be a kind of instruction manual for the areas where he struggles. For an NT dad, it might give him a chance to learn something new. In any case, I think it’s a great book for any man.
Every man I know likes these sorts of “toys”. A multitool is great but can be bulky and hard to carry. So some brilliant person invented the multitool card, which can be kept in a wallet just like a credit card. The one I’ve linked includes a ruler, an eyeglass screwdriver (that alone is invaluable!), a box opener, a can opener, flat and Phillips head screwdrivers, a bottle opener, and tons more. Just about any version you find will have most of the same features. With one of these, your dad will have the right tool for almost any situation.
Father’s Day has the benefit of being less bound by “tradition” than Mother’s Day, so there’s more room to make sure you get the dad in your life the gift that really suits him! Happy Father’s Day to all the autism dads and autistic dads out there!
What would your perfect Father’s Day be like? Do you have a favorite Father’s Day memory you’d like to share? Have I missed some really great gift ideas? Tell me!