Holiday Newsletter 2021

Message from GAN Founder, Bonnie Gillman

GAN provides free membership, information, referral services and events for the autism community. We rely on your contributions and donations of items for our eBay site to sustain our GAN and Family Autism Network websites. We are currently updating our sites to provide easier access to more resources for the autism community. Please consider making a tax-deductible donation to help us continue to serve grandparents and their families world-wide.

The GAN board of directors, advisory board members and I wish you and your families good health and happiness at the holidays and in the New Year. Thank you for being a vital resource for autism … and each other!

Holiday Tips for Grandparents

As we prepare our homes for the upcoming holidays, the most important thing to keep in mind is to provide a safe and comfortable environment for our grandchildren. Here are some suggestions to make your home entertaining as inviting as possible:

  • Inform family members, in advance, about how they can minimize anxiety or behavioral incidents. Enlist other children to be inclusive in pre-planned activities with your grandchild.
  • Prepare your grandchildren for what they will experience in celebrating the holidays with the family. Introduce family games, special foods or traditions in advance to them so that they know what to expect when they visit.
  • Invite your grandchildren to select and display some of the decorations. Choose those with little sensory  stimulation. Blinking lights, moving ornaments and even “noisy” wrapping paper can be especially distracting and disturbing to them.
  • Tell your grandchildren, in advance, that you have provided a “safe, calm space” for them if they feel overwhelmed. Designate a quiet area with favorite activities where your grandchild can go if they become over stimulated. If you observe them becoming anxious, calmly take them to that space. Provide stuffed animals, a favorite blanket, a puzzle, crayons and other comforting items there for them.
  • You can also improvise with a sheet over a table to create a quick “fort” for your grandchild if they seek some isolation.
  • Have headphones or soft music available.
  • Plan to have your grandchild’s favorite comfort foods available. Holiday menus may not please them or work with their diets. You may want to ask their parents to bring any special food they enjoy to your home.

Gift Card Suggestions for Any Budget

Gift cards are great options for your family. Consider giving them for:

  • Restaurants, fast food, grocery stores or meals delivered at home
  • Classes and/or supplies at hobby or craft stores
  • Department, electronics or book stores
  • A needed service, program or activity
  • A subscription to Disney+, Netflix, or other home entertainment for the family (ask in advance if your family wants or can even receive them)
  • A computer, phone, or iPad to enable more communication with you, other family members and friends

CLICK HERE for more gift giving tips on our GAN website.

Here are personal gift certificates that you can print out and use for holidays or any occasion:

Understanding Gift Giving

Giving and receiving gifts can be difficult to understand for children with autism. Sharing this gift themed social story with your grandchild can help to ease some anxiety around gift giving.

Toys for Children & Teens
Here’s a guide to gifts for people at all
developmental ages

Sensory Friendly Clothing

If your grandchild needs sensory friendly clothing, Target has many Cat & Jack brand options. If your grandchild has difficulty dressing, use a search engine like Google to find sites that sell “adaptive clothing.” Here’s a link to Etsy for a broad range of additional adaptive clothing items.


*Be sure to compliment and encourage your grandchild’s parents often
*Take a grandchild to a regularly scheduled appointment or class
*Entertain siblings to enable more time for child with parents
*Freeze individual homemade meals for use when needed
*Offer your home for a family holiday or a birthday party
*Make a new calendar and enter events you will share
*Invite grandchildren for sleepovers at your home
*Take your grandchild to the library weekly
*Offer to do carpools for a week or more
*Arrange for a play date in your home
*Take your grandchild on a picnic

Apps to Share with Grandchildren

Holiday foods and treats tend to slow us down and make us gain weight. Here are some resources to get you and your grandkids moving and having fun together.

GoNoodle – Kids Videos: Make screen time active with 300+ dance videos, yoga exercises, and mindfulness activities for kids! Trusted by teachers and used in four out of five U.S. public elementary schools, GoNoodle videos create more than 667 million movement minutes each month in homes and schools. No subscription or login required) and available on multiple platforms.

Jump Jump Froggy 2 (iOS) is a game that gets you moving. Get active with an “exergame” that moves your whole body (and not just your thumbs)! Catch flies by making your frog jump with real-life jumps! Leap out of the way of predators! Free to download and play. You can unlock additional content for $2.99.

Looking for New, Collectible or Vintage Gifts?

Now is the perfect time to visit our eBay site for gifts! Most of us have collectibles and other worthwhile items that our children do not want. Donations to the Grandparent Autism Network are tax-deductible. Create more space for all the fabulous things that you love AND benefit grandparents and families affected by autism.

All donated items are sold through our e-Bay for Charity store, raising money to support our programs.

We welcome donated goods such as:

  • New, unwanted gifts
  • Collectibles, Home Accessories, Craft Items
  • New Clothing, Shoes and Handbags
  • Fine, Vintage, and Costume Jewelry
  • Mobile Phones, Tablets and Laptops

You can mail or drop off donations for GAN at the UPS Store located at 23785 El Toro Road, #103, Lake Forest, CA. Contact us at for possible pickup options in Orange County, CA and for donation receipt forms.

Donations are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law.Tax ID# 20-5230144.