This is a great video to use during speech therapy for expected and unexpected behaviors. First from some of the kids who have some pretty extreme reactions as well as talking about what would be expected and UNexpected as a gift from a parent. If you decide to use the video, make sure to preview it first. I think the last kid in the video uses some inappropriate language.
My husband tried this with our son last year when he was three. He didn't have expectations of what a "Christmas gift" should be yet, so he was really excited to get a can of Spray starch. (That this was what my husband picked would be the subject of a whole different blog called, 101 dangerous gifts my husband tried to give to our kids.)
Struggling with how to accept an unwanted Christmas gift is part of normal development, but for children with Autism Spectrum Disorders and other pragmatic language impairments, more direct teaching is required. Here are some ideas I've used in therapy:
1. I usually start with a Social story to give them information about what will happen during gift opening time. An example would be something like: "On Christmas Morning we will eat breakfast and then it will be time to open gifts. Everyone gets to take a turn opening a gift. On my turn, I will open my gift and see what it is. Most of the time, my gifts are things that I like. Sometimes they are not. When I get a gift I don't like, I can try to smile and say, "Thank you" to the person who gave it to me. This makes them feel happy."
2. Practice. Years ago, I bought a fabric wrapped box with a bow on it. We practice putting gifts in it and using a script to "thank" each other. I try to have 5 things I think the client would like and 1-2 silly or unexpected gifts. You could expand that activity by first writing a list and then cutting out items from catalogs that matched-OR didn't match the list.
3. Apps. There are alot of "present" opening apps available for the Ipad. You could use these apps to engage the chilld.
For some of my more "black and white" kids who can't get past the idea that saying "I like it" is lying, we work on the noncompliment. I use this all the time. You start by just naming it. Let's say you give me a T-Rex. I open the box and say; "Wow, a T-Rex." then finish by making an observation regarding the present: "I can't believe it's arms are so little."
What activities have you used to teach gift giving?