We are happy to announce that A is for Apple is running a holiday toy drive this December!

We’ve partnered with the Sacred Heart Community Service program to collect toys this holiday season, out of the main office.

The toy drive runs until December 15.  All toys collected will be distributed to needy kids throughout the Bay Area.  Sacred Heart also distributes food to thousands of families in need.

The toy drive box is located in our main therapy office, by the front door.


Want to help more children enjoy Christmas this year?  Please donate a toy!

Suggested Toys

Sacred Heart has guidelines about which toys they can & cannot accept.  These guidelines are motivated by child safety, which we all agree is important.

Accordingly, here’s a list of toys we gladly accept:

  1. Super Hero Toys
  2. Dress-Up Clothes & Costumes
  3. Nail Polish/Makeup Kits*
  4. Shoes: Toms/Vans/Converse (up to Size 9)*
  5. Sports Equipment*
  6. Sunglasses or Watches for Kids*
  7. Toy cars & trucks
  8. Legos

*Sacred Heart has the most difficulty getting toys for children age 12-17.

Non-Acceptable Toys

Here’s a list of toys we cannot accept in our Toy Drive box:

  • Toys that include weapons, such as fake knives or guns
  • Toys that promote violence

What about Gift Cards?

If you’re not sure what kind of toy to give, try a gift card. Sacred Heart accepts gift cards as family donations. iTunes, Amazon, and Target gift cards are all gratefully accepted.

If you’d like more gift ideas – or are looking for gift ideas for your own children – please read our “Autism Tips” section below.

Remember, our Toy Drive will run until December 15. Afterward, we’ll deliver the toy box to Sacred Heart so they can distribute the toys in time for holiday celebrations!

Learn more about Sacred Heart’s efforts at

Happy Holidays to all of you, from everyone at A is for Apple! We’ll see you again in January 2016.

Local Events: Fantasy of Lights Drive-Thru, and Holiday Sensory-Friendly Films

Fantasy of Lights Drive-Thru

Every year, the Santa Clara County Parks Department puts on the Fantasy of Lights Drive-Thru in Los Gatos.  It’s a 1.5-mile display of dazzling lights and holiday music.  It runs every night from December 6 to December 31.

(If you’d prefer to walk, there’s a Walk-Thru Day on December 5.)

You will need pre-paid tickets to attend.  $20 per car.  More details and a ticket ordering link here:
17th Annual Fantasy Lights Drive-Thru –

Also, a reminder:  Sensory Friendly Films at AMC Theatres are still running.  Great for family outings.  In December, the films played are “The Good Dinosaur” (December 12) and “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” (December 22 & 26).

See our September issue of “Thrive” for more on sensory-friendly films.

Autism Tips: Holiday Gift Suggestions

Stuck on what to get your child this year?  Let us help out with some ideas for holiday gifts!

Our therapies show that kids with developmental disabilities love cause-and-effect toys, simple light/sound toys, musical toys and other sensory toys. 

Here’s a list of those kinds of toys to help your holiday shopping.  We’ve included some links as well.

Little People City Skyway

Finally, here’s a link to a website with lots of toys you can buy online: Toys for Boys & Girls with Autism – National Autism Resources

Don’t forget to share your holiday pictures with us on Facebook!  Here’s our Facebook Page:

Autism Awareness: Sesame Street Has a Muppet with Autism!

Julia the Muppet with Autism

The “Sesame Street” show has entertained and educated children for generations.  They’ve introduced children to letters, numbers, music, friendship, good behavior, and much more.

Now they are promoting autism awareness.

PBS has a website devoted to Sesame Street and autism, at  On it you’ll find many stories of children with autism – what their days are like, meeting Muppets, and resources for parents.

We also meet Julia, a Muppet girl with autism.  Julia joins Elmo and Abby in a new digital storybook titled, “We’re Amazing, 1, 2, 3!”  It’s a wonderful story about a playdate, and helps teach about autism. 

Julia has not appeared on the Sesame Street TV show yet.  Would you like to see Julia on TV?  We sure would!

If you would too, please contact Sesame Street through this online form:
Contact Us – Sesame Street and Autism

Tell them what you enjoyed about the “We’re Amazing, 1, 2, 3!” digital storybook.  Ask them when we’ll all see Julia on TV. 

Maybe soon we’ll turn on Sesame Street for our children with autism, and they can see someone just like them.  How much more would we all learn that way?

Ask AIFA: How can I involve my child in the holidays?

“Dear A is for Apple,
I’m not sure what to do during the holidays with my child.  What kinds of activities would help her enjoy the holiday season?”

There are lots of ways you can include your child in holiday activities!  Here’s a big list of ideas you can try out.

  1. Practice things like unwrapping presents ahead of time.
  2. If you’re doing some Christmas baking, allow them to roll the dough, use the cookie cutters, and/or decorate the food.
  3. Have your child pick out a gift at the store for a needy child.  Then bring it to our toy drive!
  4. Write simple social stories or role play (especially for events you know the family might do – traveling, having extended family visit, etc.).
  5. Plan a quiet area for your child to go when they need a break.
  6. Watch for signs of increasing anxiety.  When you see it, offer a break.  (See our previous issue for more help here.)
  7. Talk with your child’s teacher to find out any holiday schedule changes at school.  Tell your child these changes so they know ahead of time.
  8. For a plane flight or long car ride, give your child small wrapped toys from the dollar store throughout the journey.  Especially when they’re being good!
  9. Take pictures whenever you can to share with your child.
  10. If your child is older, ask them for help with the holiday planning.
  11. Have your child participate in decorating the tree, hanging lights (for older kids), and wrapping gifts for others.
  12. Take goofy family pictures and allow your child to take a few pictures as well, choose one to send out as the family Xmas card.
  13. Help your child create their own homemade Xmas card.  Encourage them to color, paint, whatever they choose to express their artistic side.
  14. Take your child to the dollar store and let them help pick out small gifts for their classmates.  Have them make homemade cards to personalize them too.
  15. Allow your child to help set up the holiday meals, depending on their ages/capability – setting the plates, silverware, napkins, etc.
  16. Don’t clean up the wrapping paper as gifts are being unwrapped.  Take a moment to play in it!  Like leaf piles in the yard, wrapping piles can be just as fun!
  17. Offer simple choices between these activities whenever possible.  Two activities, choose one.
  18. Praise your child whenever possible—holidays can be stressful.
  19. Children sense when parents are tense.  So relax and have fun!

Do you have a question you’d like answered?  Please email it to us at for inclusion in a future newsletter.