Best Toys for Kids With Autism

Best Toys for Kids With Autism

What to look for in toys for autistic kids.  Best toys for kids with autism.

One of the most common questions we get in the store is what toys are good for kids on the autism spectrum. The simple answer is there is no section of the store for labelled toys for kids with autism. Because kids with autism benefit from such a wide variety of toys in many different categories of our store. Puzzles, blocks and books are all great toys for children on and off the autism spectrum. However, there are some common features of toys that are particularly beneficial for kids with autism. Here are some guidelines when shopping for toys for kids on the spectrum.

 

Follow the child’s interests. Children with autism can become very fixated on one particular interest; such as dinosaurs or things of a certain colour.

 

Avoid toys that are overstimulating. Many children on the autism spectrum will find electronic toys highly overstimulating. The flashing lights and sounds are simply too overwhelming and can lead to intense meltdowns. Wooden toys and toys that rely on the child to manipulate them rather than move on their own put the control back into the hands of the child.

 

Choose open ended toys. Open ended toys are ones that can be played with in multiple ways. There’s no one set way to play with the toy. Blocks and magnetic tiles are great examples of open ended toys. You can create anything inspired by your own imagination. Open ended toys are some of the best toys for kids with autism because there are no rules or expectations on how they are to be played with.

 

Toys that provide sensory stimulation. Children with autism typically crave toys that provide some sort of sensory input. But as we just discussed, too much sensory stimulation (eg. Loud sounds, flashing lights, etc.) is too much. Toys that provide one type of sensory stimulation, such as toys that offer different textures can be calming to a child with autism.  

 

Rotate toys. Having too many toys available at one time can be overstimulating to a child with autism. Rotating your toys on a regular basis, providing access to 8-10 toys at a time can help to reduce the overwhelm. Toys may be rotated daily, weekly, or bi-weekly, whatever feels right to your family.

 

Take Age Recommendations with a Grain of Salt. Toy manufacturers use children’s developmental stages to grade their toys by age. This allows parents and caregivers to choose toys for their children that are developmentally appropriate for their age group. However, some children with autism may have intellectual disabilities so a 2-piece puzzle that is labelled 18 months + might be perfectly appropriate for a 4 year old child with autism. Similarly, a child on the spectrum might be very fixated on puzzle play and a 100 piece puzzle that says age 6+ might be perfectly suited to that 4 year old. So long as the toy doesn’t pose a safety risk to your child (eg. no small parts under age 3), you can ignore age recommendations.

 

Check out some of our top picks. Toys for Kids with Autism:

 

 

Fat Brain Toys Dimpl

This toy contains five colourful silicone bubbles that kids love to pop, poke and push. Although it’s a toy designed for toddlers, children of all ages on the autism spectrum enjoy the cause and effect of pushing to hear the satisfying soft “pop”. The Dimpl also engages kids’ fine motor skills while providing that “just right” sensory stimulation.

 

Modelling Dough

Squish. Sculpt. Roll. Modelling dough provides a great amount of tactile stimulation and is a great fine motor toy too.

 

Kinetic Sand

We love the grainy, soft texture of kinetic sand. The sand sticks to itself so it’s easy to clean up, plus it never dries out.

 

Sense & Grow Texture bag

This toy is jam packed with tons of sensory stimuli. It contains a variety of shapes of different textures – from scratchy to silky soft. Play as a memory game, a seek and find, or just pour the shapes into a bosket for some quiet time sensory stimulation.

 

Squigz

Here’s another example of an open ended toy – toys that the child determines how to play. Open ended toys don’t tell a child how to play with it (ie. Push this button and I make a noise). Instead, the child directs the play. Squigz are suction cups that stick together and to surfaces.They can be used on a table, window, bathtub. Kids love that satisfying  “pop” sound they make when pulling them apart. The push and pull of this toy is also a great tool for developing those fine motor muscles.

 

Melissa & Doug See & Spell

Melissa & Doug lists this toy on its best toys list for autistic children. This puzzle set includes 3 to 4-letter words such as bus, bird, fish, cake and 50 colourful letter pieces. Kids can work on their spelling, letter recognition and vocabulary all in one toy. It’s a great way to encourage kids to sound out words, especially children with language delays. The colourful letters are appealing and the fact that it incorporates a fine motor activity into the language learning is extremely appealing for children on the spectrum.

 

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