iPads can be awesome for kids with autism but your family budget isn't accommodating expensive right now, no matter how much of a difference an iPad could make for your child's ability to learn and play.
Basically, you know your kid with autism needs an iPad but you can't afford one. What to do? I'll tell you.
First, download an application from HollyRod Foundation's holiday iPad donation campaign to see if your child qualifies -- the two primary bases are family income and communication delays. (Everyone else: please donate to the HollyRod iPad campaign, either on their site or on CrowdRise.)
If your child doesn't qualify for the HollyRod campaign, don't fret. Instead, consider harnessing the combined powers of the holiday season and the Internet: set up an iPad fundraising campaign for your own child on ChipIn.com or GiveForward.com. These campaigns allow people to contribute whatever they can, directly to a fund that you set up. Then blog the campaign, tweet it, post it on Facebook, email friends & family -- enlist as many people as you can, cite as many articles as you need to to let everyone who cares about your child know how much your kid could benefit from an iPad.
Going hat-in-hand may not come naturally to you, but consider that you can ask as many or as few people as you like, that any contribution will make a difference -- and that you may actually be helping out all those relatives who wrestle with what to get your child for Christmas, Hanukkah, or birthdays. Remember: people can always choose not to contribute, but they can't contribute anything if you don't ask them.
Please trust me on this one: people are generous, the Internet is powerful, and your kid needs an iPad. It's a great combination. Good luck, and let me know if you have any questions.
P.S. If your child already has an iPad, iPod Touch, or access to an iPhone, tell friends & family who ask that nothing makes such kids happier than an apps-enabling iTunes gift card.